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From Canada with Love: A Kusina ng Kalinga Volunteer's Journal

[Date Created: February 25, 2015]


"Give love and I pay for your flight!" - Brian Mo
VIEW THE VIDEO and mechanics of Brian's 143 Challenge for givers




Visit the Kusina ng Kalinga kitchen in Alang-Alang, Leyte today and you would find it happily abuzz with activity. At the break of dawn, you would already find our Kusina volunteers – mostly mothers of the kids themselves – chopping and preparing the ingredients of that day’s lunch for thousands of schoolchildren. But if you visited the kitchen earlier this month, you would’ve witnessed a scene you don’t get to see every day: Beside the usual Kusina volunteers are foreign-looking ones, cooking their way into the hearts (and stomachs) of the children they would be serving.




Early February, several volunteers from Gawad Kalinga (GK) Canada and GK Australia found their way to the Kusina ng Kalinga kitchen in Alang-Alang Central School, Leyte. United in their goal to help end hunger and poverty for thousands of kids, these volunteers worked side by side with our kitchen staff and volunteers, even if it meant waking up early and chopping more onions than they have seen in their life.


One such volunteer is Brian Morales from GK Canada. Last year, Brian helped raise funds for Kusina ng Kalinga through the Skoll Social Entrepreneurs Challenge. As a Skoll fundraising champion, he rallied friends and family to support the cause. At the end of the challenge, he was able to raise $3,130, which is enough to feed more than 1 class for an entire year.


Brian wanted to make his experience more personal, so he flew all the way to Leyte to help with the kitchen and interact with the children.



Raising the Funds


Brian’s Kusina ng Kalinga journey began with raising the funds. He put up his own fundraising page in the Skoll Social Entrepreneur’s challenge, but he also came up with creative ways to encourage his network to give. Below are his actual posts from Instagram and Facebook:


“15 million kids, sons and daughters, nephews and nieces go hungry in the Philippines.
That’s like saying the ENTIRE province of Ontario is without food.” - Brian Morales



November 22, 2014
CANADA


Happy weekend Guys! I need your help! There's only 15 days left and I'm at 40% of the way to our $3000 goal! It's crunch time! I wanted a bigger incentive for you all! I'm happy to announce BIGGER incentives to all my friends!




3 days in Las Vegas! 
3 days in San Francisco!
 5 days in Honolulu!




They are now among your new choices for destinations should you win! In order to qualify:




1- You MUST share these posts on Facebook AND Instagram


2- Your destination of choice has a minimum donation requirement:

  • 
Vancouver and Montreal = $20 minimum donation (enough to feed a school kid for just about half a year!)

  • Las Vegas and San Francisco = $50 minimum donation (enough to feed a school kid for AN ENTIRE YEAR!)


  • Honolulu = $100 minimum donation (enough to feed TWO school kids for an entire year!)

The Care Kitchens for Haiyan Kids are feeding the kids in school. Their minds in turn are filled with knowledge. Their spirit filled with hope. 

Here is one Christmas present that will bring EXPONENTIAL JOY! Then, let's fly together in the New Year! But first, #BuildHope #EndPoverty #Love! Donate now.


December 5, 2014
CANADA

Guys! ONE MORE SURPRISE!

Anyone who donates to CARE KITCHENS FOR HAIYAN KIDS TODAY, December 4th, THE FINAL 24 HOURS, automatically WINS a creation from @matamiese!

Baking in Ontario, @matamiese graciously partnered with us and will be cooking a 'thank you' creation just for YOU! They make stunning masterpieces like the blue ombre cake, cute animal macarons, beer mug topped cupcakes or the iPad replica cake!

YOU AUTOMATICALLY WIN TODAY!!!
Quadruple win!
The school kids eat!
You get a creation from @matamiese!
You're entered to win a FREE trup!
I get to eat WITH YOU!


Don't forget! Whatever you donate today will be MATCHED by crowdrise.com!

No more chances! This is it! Please SHARE! 1 day left!


DONATE NOW here: https://www.crowdrise.com/gawadkalinga-se/fundraiser/brianmo1 and #BuildHope #EndPoverty #Love!



Kusina ng Kalinga

A few months later, Brian flew to the Philippines and visited both Leyte and Cebu, areas that were affected by Supertyphoon Haiyan (Yolanda) back in November 2013. On January 20 he began to volunteer for the kitchens, and this is where he met with other GK volunteers, including some who flew all the way from Australia! Read his journey from his own words below:


January 20, 2015
LEYTE


#BuildHope
#EndPoverty


Morning or afternoon guys depending on where you are!

2 months ago you helped me raise over $3000 for Care a kitchens for Haiyan kids!

Andrew and I are here now with team @gawadkalinga!

The care kitchens begin work at 3AM two towns away from Tacloban. At that hour, there are no drivers. We're up at 5AM to make our way over!

Keep in touch my friends!


January 20, 2015
LEYTE


#BuildHope #EndPoverty #CareKitchensForHaiyanKids

We have helped prepare meals for over 2000 children today ALONE. INCREDIBLY impressed with the volunteer team here! They are not paid to do this. DAILY. These local volunteers wake up at 3AM to prepare lunches for noon. My heart goes out to them. I could barely keep up after just 2 hours in the heat seeding and chopping tomatoes.

On today's menu, Repolyo Guisado. Menus are developed at Ateneo University making sure to provide good nutritional value while keeping the price at P15/meal (that's less than $0.50). It is a value meal that parents can replicate, some of whom are volunteers here. The meals run a 20 day rotation so the children don't get bored with repetitive meals. THIS is better than my high school cafeteria menu!

We spent time chopping garlic, onions, tomatoes and cabbage. Another team prepped the chicken while 6 gigantic cauldrons of rice steam on the side. Jochz, (top right) our guide and Gawad Kalinga mission volunteer made our tour much easier.

Upbeat music playing at full blast kept the mood light hearted. As @taylorswift's "Shake It Off" filled the kitchen, the team here prepared and cooked with purpose and a smile. They made short work of tasks Andrew and I were struggling with in this heat even though they were up 3 hours earlier! We were in awe of this team.

Share these stories of UNSUNG HEROES!

January 21, 2015
LEYTE


Janelyn, Imee Lorraine, Roshelle, Alina Nicole and Bea!

My pretty team today for Kids Day at Alang-Alang, Leyte!

#BuildHope!!!



January 22, 2015
LEYTE


Despite what the media had me believe, Tacloban is a beautiful city!

The evidence of Haiyan's destruction lingers, but it pales in comparison to the kind hospitality of the people, their endearing "warai-warai" (sp?) dialect and beautiful jungle mountain backdrops!


The coverage on media paints such a small picture of Tacloban!

January 23, 2015
LEYTE


The amazing Kusina ng Kalinga (Care Kitchens) Team with GK Australia and GK Canada!


To GK Australia: You guys are an awesome bunch taking your holiday from "Uni", as you say, to volunteer here in the Philippines! Your incredible energy pushed me to work harder! I look forward to meeting up again the Philippines and for you to buy one of your expensive Australian beers in Sydney come November!


To the wonderful Alang-Alang Team! Not only were you guys so concerned and helpful when I got sick, you are also a HUGE INSPIRATION to us! We could barely keep up and we may have slowed you down! You guys do this FIVE DAYS a week without pay! That is incredible! It's no wonder your template will be replicated! I will share your stories!


To the kids!!! WE LOVE YOU! I'll bring more Kuya's and Ate's for you to play with! I can't wait to go back to Canada and give away the gifts you guys made!


To Canada and US, who wants to come voluntour 2016!!?!



January 23, 2015
LEYTE


#UnsungHero

Meet Troy! (Middle)
A volunteer for @gawadkalinga Ormoc, Leyte. He helps the poorest of the poor in Gawad Kalinga villages.

On this day, Troy guided us from Ormoc to Tacloban, a 2.5 hour drive! Over 5 hours total of his time.

Troy's dream is to one day meet the Founder of GK, Tito Tony Meloto. His last opportunity was not realized because he was comitted to deliver food packs after Typhoon Haiyan.

The most incredible part? He himself is a resident of 10 years of a GK vilage in Ormoc!

Gawad Kalinga. A nation builder that builds nation builders!
#BuildHope

January 24, 2015
LEYTE


#ResilienceAtItsBest

School hit by Typhoon Haiyan still churns out over 2,500 meals a day!

Even though Alang-Alang I Central school is a 40 minute drive from Tacloban City, strong winds from Haiyan ripped through much of the grounds. Over one year later, the rubble still remains. Principal Gerry explained that of the 22 classrooms in this school, 12 remain to be built.


As a symbol of the Filipino spirit, a flag of the Philippines stands proudly, even amongst the debris, in the middle of the school.


Given the limited space available, it's mind boggling to know they were producing nearly 5,000 meals a day until a recent storm took a bridge out in nearby town Palo. A Care Kitchen has since been started in Palo.


Baskets filled with meals in tupperware are then delivered to each classroom (some by the kids themselves!) and nearby school with no hint of despair. It really seems business as usual here.


A team monitors the kids performance in school since the implementation of these Care Kitchens. It's a thorough system that can really make a difference in ending hunger and malnourishment!
It's no wonder it is being used as the template for future kitchens all around the country!


And all this from a nondescript, rural small town school! BRILLIANT!

#BuildHope


January 24, 2015
CEBU


Bantayan Island GK Village Combado, Ticad!

On this small island in Cebu, we had the chance to visit this big 43 family village, where 300 new GK homes will rise!

We had a short stay, but with the help of Tita Lalaine, who picked out all the treats and organized the kids, we were able to show some Canadian LOVE!

The kids, shy at first, burst out in laughter and the best "hello" they could muster. Each one received a loot bag of treats. We had enough left over that the moms began lining up! With @_ccio translating english to tagalog, we told the kids we'd share the stories of our visit with Canada and ask more Canadians to visit!

Who's up for it in 2016!?

January 27, 2015
LEYTE


Meet Jochzz. (In black t-shirt)


A 21 year old @gawadkalinga mission volunteer, she is trained to educate the parents in values formation. A resident of Tacloban City, she survived a storm surge during Typhoon Haiyan. She was home on that day when all of a sudden water rushed into her home and she had to swim for her life! Sge and her family took refuge in the only room that miraculously remained unscathed. With wind speeds reaching 300km/h, the shrieking as it passed overhead became deafening! A scar remains on her leg from an unknown source during her swim to safety.

As she recounts this story to Andrew and I, I can't ignore how surprisingly calm she tells us what happened as if it was a normal day one year ago.

And here she is, guiding us during our stay, volunteering daily at the Care Kitchens, where many of the kids of Alang-Alang Central I School have grown so fond of her, they call her "Mommy!". What a brave, beautiful young lady. Another #UnsungHero. She has filled my heart.

Share this story!
@heroofdday



February 2, 2015
LEYTE


Meet Tita Lalaine Oliveros, the beautiful lady in the center! A resident of @gawadkalinga Combado, Ticad on Bantayan Island! The news coverage here was much less than the rest of the Visayas but this site was also affected by super typhoon Haiyan.

On short notice, within 10 minutes, Tita Lalaine replied to my impromptu text to meet on the same day. She wore the Gawad Kalinga Battle Cry on her shirt proudly, "Walang Iwanan!" (Leave No One Behind!). She rallied the children and mothers so we could meet them. (The fathers were out building MORE homes for Gawad Kalinga. Isn't that amazing? Isn't that the best way to build the future?)

As she toured us through her village, every sentence, every word had purpose and pride.

But it was her motherly instincts that drew us in. We were there for less than half a day but even now, 1 week later, she is sending me texts to make sure I'm travelling safely. We've been adopted on a whim and we're hooked!

Our #HeroOfTheDay and newly adopted mother, Tita Lalaine Oliveros.

February 3, 2015
LEYTE


Shout out to my travel buddy and my next @heroofdday!

Joining me on short notice in Cebu half way through his south east Asia voyage, he didn't even break a sweat traveling and volunteering! He remaines humble about his actions but he made traveling a breeze with his laid back attitude and friendly demeanor. Culinary adventures were exponentially better with his company.

Everyone stared at this bearded Asian and the kids loved it the most giggling and telling hero whenever they spotted him! He's back on solo travel around the Philippines! Connect with him!

May your travels be filled with plenty of KANGKONG!




February 4, 2015
LEYTE


Time to play with the Kids at The Care Kitchens...

but first...

#LetsTakeASelfie!

February 4, 2015
LEYTE


"Everyone, meet Ram, one of the children in the 'Sped' class (the literal term in the school, short for Special Education) in Alang-Alang Public School. With one of the saddest background stories, it really does highlight the repercussions of domestic violence. Nonetheless, he made it to school every day to cheer us on, give us numerous hugs, and thank us for our help. It is us who should be thanking you Ram! Thank you for being the beautiful soul that gave us the energy to power on!" - Oliver Sekuloski, GK Australia Volunteer

Thank you Oliver for sharing this photo and story! Now we can share his story to the world! We met Ram briefly. On first encounter he hugged us and told us, "I Love you!".

Jochzz, the school's mission volunteer, told us if Ram noticed you were sad, he would be the first to tell you, "Don't be sad, be happy!"

Be happy! What a beautiful and powerful soul! Thank you Ram!



February 10, 2015
LEYTE


I couldn't keep it a secret any longer!

Thank you to all the donors from last November's Care Kitchens for Haiyan Kids! The kids from Alang-Alang I Central School Grade III have written personal 'thank you' letters!

I was going to just mail you the letters, but the world needs to know of these @heroofdday!

I got to read every one of their sweet little messages and I can't wait for you guys to receive them!

Thank you all again for your donations! Next time, let's just all go there together.

Let's GO DO IT!
SAVE THE DATE SPRING 2016!!!


Today, Brian is now back in Canada, bringing with him the handwritten thank you letters from the children of Alang-Alang, Leyte. Some of the donors from his network already received the letters, and the response has been TREMENDOUS. In Brian's words, "What an incredible achievement connecting people in this way! I already have excited volunteers ready to visit the GK villages in 2016!"


You too can join Brian and his friends when they visit GK villages and kitchens next year (Spring 2016). If you're interested, you may email him at mo.brianlester@gmail.com or contact him through his Facebook or Instagram account.




Tags: EndPoverty, KusinangKalinga



Kusina ng Kalinga is GK’s campaign to end child hunger by caring together. Our kitchens - powered by the bayanihan work of parents, volunteers, teachers, school and community administrators, LGUs, private individuals, organizations, and corporate partners, are hubs for preparing a whole year round of daily nutritious lunch meals to (K to 6) public schoolchildren. This program is a comprehensive and scalable approach to empowering our young and improving their quality of life as it indirectly impacts their performance in school, their home and community environment.


Our kitchens are currently operating in Alang-Alang, Leyte (3,800 kids), San Isidro, Leyte (5,125 kids), Quezon City, Metro Manila (2,000 kids), and Tacurong, Sultan Kudarat (2,000 kids). Whatever we raise from this campaign will be used to sustain these kitchens, open new ones, and reach 50,000 kids by June 2015.

You can help us reach many more of the ~15M Filipino kids experiencing hunger. Check out our Love Means Walang Iwanan page to see how you can help. You may also GIVE NOW.



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