Empowering people by providing education, resources, and opportunities to serve.
To spark transformation by mobilizing entire communities to serve one another.
Founded in April of 2012, The International Service Corps of Asia (ISC) is a not for profit, non-governmental, community development organization registered under the Philippines Security and Exchange Commission. The ISC approaches community development on a grass roots basis, relying on community members to guide, lead, and resource projects to help those in need. We engage in simple projects, but we do them often with committed regularity, and we value journeying with the community to accomplish goals. It began when Edwin and Amy Samson felt a call to serve the people of the Philippines. After working in a slum in Manila and learning about poverty and the human desire for deep heart transformation, they moved to an island called Catanduanes where the first ISC chapter was established. By engaging local leaders, valuing existing assets, and brainstorming with residents, the first projects were conducted with careful contextual appropriateness. Today, the first class offered is still the most popular - Microsoft Unlimited Potential Computer Fundamentals Course. Now, the team offers a number of seminars and conducts a variety of projects and activities for the community. Despite our efforts to provide excellent quality training, one of the main purposes of the Service Corps is to mobilize local community members to serve others. Therefore we are pleased to see that many of the recipients have become volunteers themselves. If you can only remember one thing about the ISC, it's that we exist to SERVE!
Above is a video about "The Enrichment Center," which is the name of our main office. To the right is a picture of Service Corps Officers (Catanduanes Chapter).
Back row, left to right: Edwin and Amy Samson, Tom and Kristin Buursma, Teng and Edna Candelaria; front row, left to right: Amalie, Josiah, Flora, Rachel, Tessa, and Kate
Our Core Values
We focus on the mind by providing education, the body by conducting health and wellness programs, and the soul by engaging in spiritual activities. We believe that to truly participate in transformational development, the whole person must be taken into consideration. Another way of putting it is, "head, hands, and heart." If the head deals with knowledge and the heart with a person's relationship with God, then the hands are the things a person can do to serve others.
This word embodies more than just "community" or a "gathering of people." It is the experience of bonding that a group develops after undergoing a shared moment of trial or challenge. Comunitas is like a rite of passage that thrusts people into deep relationships. We believe that this is where community transformation begins. In our case, comunitas happens when a group of us goes to a remote village to bring needed supplies. It happens when our Reef Rangers go out into the ocean to help fishermen. It happens when mothers haul food and water to the poor. At the heart of our service to others is the relationship aspect. We seek comunitas!
The International Service Corps of Asia exists because of God. Without God's transformative love, the founding members would not have given tremendous effort in finding ways to serve people. Without God's loving kindness, the way of the world would prevent most people from volunteering, especially when incentives do not exist. Therefore we proclaim that it is through God's providence that this organization exists and it is Him that we serve.
This stands for Simple, Sustainable, Appropriate, and Reproducable. Whenever we enter into a community we may tackle projects that require resources from outside the target community. But the Service Corps believes that transformation occurs when service projects are conducted frequently and with as many volunteers as possible. In order to fully transition leadership into local hands, we use "SSAR" as a standard for our projects.
Because we acknowledge that every community has a distinct set of assets and resources, we believe in partnering with local groups that are already helping the community. So far we are partnered with the local government, the Department of Education, the Technical Education department (TESDA), the disaster office (MDRRMO), the local elementary school, the fisheries department, and several other NGO's.
Whenever we enter into a community, we conduct three phases of development in order to maintain mission focus and efficiency. All phases are continually ongoing. Meaning, we could begin Phase I with one particular group working at the city hall, be in the middle of Phase II with a neighborhood situated in a coastal village, and be well underway in Phase III with a group of teachers at the elementary school. All the while, we could be starting Phase I with a new batch of university students and so forth. Below are the phases of development:
Empowering and Equipping
Conduct classes and seminars offered by Service Corps officers and volunteers. Our "Big 5" flagship programs are:
1. Computer Literacy
2. Leadership and Team Building
3. Library Resource Center
4. Confidence Course
5. Celebrate Recovery
Note: We also conduct a number of smaller seminars that we teach on demand and depending on community needs. Examles are Sea Navigation and Survival, Scouting, Tourism, etc.
During this phase, participants are mobilized to conduct community service projects, and we do it as a group or team. We call these activities SSAR Projects (Simple, Sustainable, Appropriate, Reproducible). Below are a few examples but, for the sake of space, not everything is listed:
- Beach cleanups and coastal underwater garbage collection.
- Children's Outreaches
- Volunteering with the disaster management office as rescue personnel or other roles.
- Feeding programs for the malnourished.
- Visiting and helping prisoners rehabilitate.
- Visitations to the sick or those needing help.
- Other community service activities...
When 10% of a town's population is serving one another regularly and unconditionally, no strings attached, but out of love, the entire community will likely enjoy a wholeness of life as God intended it to be. In this phase we focus on relationships. We form groups of people who regularly meet to address needs that go beyond the physical and material. These home groups grow together as one and brainstorm ways to become better citizens, community members, and all around - better people. We are intentional about taking community service to new heights, beyond the service and into the heart.