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Typhoon Haiyan

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As you’ve likely seen in the news over the last few days, the Philippines were hit by Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest typhoon to make landfall in recorded history, with winds in excess of 200 mph, resulting in thousands of lives likely lost, and hundreds of thousands displaced from their homes. Our thoughts and well-wishes go out to everyone affected by this devastating natural disaster. CNN has a page on its website listing many ways in which you can help the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan. We urge you to help any way you can. Thank you.

Thanks to everyone who attended our Year in Review event last week. It was great to see you all and get a chance to show you how your support has helped the children of Bacoor. Special thanks to Bob Avery and the Million Dollar Round Table Foundation for their generous grant in the amount of $5000. We’re excited to see what the next year brings! Thanks again for all your help and support!  Read the official press release below:

August 5, 2011— Robert L. Avery, II, CLU, ChFC, of Denver, Colorado, secured a $5,000 grant from the MDRT Foundation on behalf of Children’s Hope Fund. Avery, a 26-year MDRT member, is an active supporter of Children’s Hope Fund and nominated and endorsed the grant application. Children’s Hope Fund (http://www.childrenshopefund.org/) is a nonprofit organization that provides support so that impoverished Filipino children can attend school, better their lives and break the cycle of poverty. The MDRT Foundation grant will support the organization’s programs.

This year, the MDRT Foundation will award more than $850,000 USD in grants to more than 100 charities. Representing the MDRT Foundation, Avery presented this grant to Children’s Hope Fund on July 26, 2011 at the organization’s “Year in Review” event, held at Forest Room 5 in Denver, CO. At the event, Children’s Hope Fund’s Board of Directors reported the organization’s activities and achievements for the past year, including a Board member’s visit to Bacoor, Philippines in June 2011 to distribute school supplies. Avery presented the check for $5,000 to Rhezy Davis, Founder and President of Children’s Hope Fund. In his presentation, Mr. Avery said, “It is not easy to change the world, but [through organizations such as Children’s Hope Fund] we are able to change someone’s world.”

The MDRT Foundation was created in 1959 to provide MDRT members with a means to give back to their communities. Since its inception, the Foundation has donated more than $26 million in 80 countries around the world and in all 50 U.S. states. The majority of these funds were raised by MDRT members from MDRT members. The MDRT Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Million Dollar Round Table, The Premier Association of Financial Professionals®. MDRT is an international, independent association of more than 34,000 of the world’s best life insurance and financial services professionals from more than 80 nations and territories. MDRT members demonstrate exceptional product knowledge, strict ethical conduct and outstanding client service. MDRT membership is recognized internationally as the standard of sales excellence in the life insurance and financial services business.

Typhoon Conson killed 23 people, left 59 missing and injured 14 others in the Philippines after crossing the main island of Luzon from July 13. The typhoon damaged 3,274 houses, bridges and schools in seven provinces around the capital, Manila, according to the latest situation report posted on the website of the National Disaster Coordinating Council. Power has been restored in some areas hit by the typhoon and damages to infrastructure, fisheries, agriculture and schools amount to 22.3 million pesos ($482,000), it said. In Cavite, floods have subsided in the three coastal towns of Rosario, Bacoor and Noveleta, and in Cavite City. A total of 504,711 persons were affected by the typhoon, the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) said.

Last year, three typhoons left about 1,000 people dead and 40,000 homes destroyed, mostly in Luzon, the largest Philippine island and where the capital Manila is located.

(source: Business Week)

I start each day by watching the news to see what’s happening in the world. This morning I found myself asking why is it that news and news-related programs tend to highlight all the bad things that are happening in the world? It seems like negativity and bad news make up the majority of television news programming. Stories about goodwill, virtue and heroism are positive news, but don’t seem to be emphasized much. I’m sure there are a lot of positive stories around the world that we could be reporting on, instead of just focusing on things like war, crime, or what celebrity is going into rehab or cheating on their spouse. By now, most parents have heard about studies that discourage exposing young children to television.

Consider these findings from a study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation (for more details, see the full report):

  • For children under the age of 2: more than four in 10 (43%) of children under the age of 2 watch TV every day and nearly one in five (18%) watch videos or DVDs every day.
  • For children under the age of 6: on average, they spend about two hours a day with screen media – the same amount of time as they spend playing outside, and three times as much time as they spend reading or being read to.

Gloria DeGaetano states in her paper, All the News That’s Fit for Kids, “Messages and stories absorbed at an early age have the biggest impact on children, who often don’t understand that news programs offer a very narrow view of the world. Much of what is covered on television news involves the most negative aspects of human behavior. If programs that send skewed and harmful messages about how people behave are a child’s first cultural impressions, then the child will most likely compare all future accounts, no matter how realistic, to these inaccurate ones. Kids can also become fearful when information is presented out of context. “After the television coverage of the bombing of Baghdad a few years ago,” says Harvard University child psychologist Dr. Robert B. Brooks, “children in this country worried that their homes would be bombed in retaliation.””

It would be nice to hear more good stories on the news, showing the positive aspects of humanity instead of just focusing on the negative. People, both children and adults, need to know that good stuff that is happening, to inspire them, and give them hope.

We received devastating news from the Philippines today: a fire erupted in a slum near the Philippine capital of Manila, destroying hundreds of homes and leaving thousands of people homeless. Living in the slums leaves its people vulnerable to devastation, especially fire, because their shelters are mostly constructed of scraps of wood and garbage and are often built extremely close to each other or even attached.

An event like this highlights the need for us to help the impoverished children of the Philippines. Most of the students we are helping in Cavite live in slums just like the one that was devastated by the fire today. Children who live in these slums don’t have the luxury of focusing on their education; they instead wonder where there next meal will come from. But, with your help, we can change the focus of Cavite’s slum children to education by providing them healthy meals, clothing and school supplies. An education is the best chance they have to escape the horrors of the slums. Help us as we encourage and aid the children of Cavite in pursuing an education.

I came across this article on CNN the other day about Smokey Mountain in Manila which really resonated with what we are trying to do here at Children’s Hope Fund. It illustrates many of the problems regarding how pervasive poverty is in the Philippines, and how it affects children and their ability to get an education in order to one day escape it and have a better life. That is one of our core beliefs here at CHF – that education is the key for these kids.

Smokey Mountain is basically a mountain of garbage. It was closed in 1990 and high-rise housing projects went up around it, but many people live on and around the “mountain”, scavenging amongst the garbage to survive. The children the author met while there do not go to school because their parents can’t afford the cost. While public schools are free to attend, there are additional fees such as school supplies, books, uniforms, food, etc., which many parents are unable to pay for.

Children’s Hope Fund is trying to help with this problem by supplying school supplies to “in-need” children like those mentioned in the article and, through our meals program, provide them a healthy meal once a month. It’s a story which plays out every day in the Philippines, where over half the population lives below the poverty line, and many live in conditions which we in the USA would find difficult to comprehend.

Parents angry that their children were not given enough rice, as authorities promised. (source: Associated Press, via gulfnews.com)

Manila : A group of parents torched a school in the central Philippines after complaining their children weren’t given the food promised by a government program aimed at boosting school attendance, police said on Tuesday.

The gutted walls were all that remained of the one-story Gaib Elementary School in Masbate island province, said provincial police chief Ed Benigay.

No one was hurt because the school was empty when it burned down overnight, he said.

“It was done by some disgruntled parents who reportedly got mad at some teachers over perceived discrimination in the school’s nourishment program,” he said.

He said the parents accused the teachers of not giving their children enough rice.

Under the government’s Food for School program that seeks to encourage school attendance, each student in impoverished areas is supposed to be given a kilo of rice every day.

The arson left nearly 150 students aged 5-10 without a classroom, Benigay said, adding that important records also were lost.

Police said no arrests have been made but they will file charges soon.

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