If you can remember one thing about the ISC, it's that we exist to SERVE! Whether that means teaching computer classes, cleaning beaches, feeding the malnourished, training fishermen how to scuba dive and survive at sea...however small or complicated, we are committed to help. We offer communities a number of services, only implemented after a thorough participatory research process. The last thing the Service Corps wants to do is bring in foreign money and workers and tell local governments what they are lacking. We believe that communities already have what it takes to thrive. Sometimes it only takes a little push.
In the town of San Andres there are about 36,000 people. The ISC strives to mobilize at least 10% of the population to regularly serve. Sounds unambitious to you? Well, that's 3,600 people serving the community on a regular basis. If that dream became a reality, community transformation would be inevitable! Below is a brief rundown of some of our most popular projects. Because some of our services are as small as driving elderly patients to the doctor's office, we won't list everything.
Computer Literacy Program
After our first planning sessions with local leaders, it became clear that the most exciting idea they could come up with for the Service Corps was to teach computer fundamentals and digital literacy. Why, when Catanduanes is a remote rural island that didn't even have landlines? Because the government mandated all of their offices to go digital within the next few years. So it would be up to the ISC to help transition offices from typewriters to desktops and laptops. Additionally, many college graduates would be moving to Manila and in order to be competitve in the job market, applicants needed proof of computer literacy. Because of our work, the local elementary school is the first educational institution on the island to go fully online with 100% of their full time faculty having gone through our course. We have graduated over 200 students since 2012 and every batch seems to grow in attendance.
We are very passionate about environmental protection. Taking care of God's creation extends to the people he placed on earth to the coral reefs, and even to the tiniest insect in the middle of the jungle. Our volunteers are adventurers who love to hike, mountain climb, snorkel, scuba and free dive, and mountain bike. This is why we work very hard to conduct coastal cleanup upvents and underwater debris removal. We teach at scouting events and we even have our very own Adventure Scouts, which is our youth group that explores and discovers new exciting things that the world has to offer. Leaders instruct the children how to properly dispose of trash and to take care of the environment. We are also in charge of a Marine Protected Area or Ocean Sanctuary and our Reef Rangers ensure that fishermen are engaging in proper fishing practices. In one community we are constructing water and sanitation facilities, guiding local volunteers to build trash receptacles, and have committed to sifting the sands of garbage every single week until it is completely clean.
By taking care of the environment, one of Catanduanes' key income generators will be affected - tourism. Of particular interest is ecological tourism. The island offers great places to hike uncharted trails, to dive waters never before seen by a human, and to bike coastal roads. If this type of tourism can be sustained, the island's economy will rise and simultaneously see a reduction in pollution.
Prison and Hospital
Jesus Christ insisted that we treat the least of society as if those people were Him. To the rest of the world, the poor, the sick, and the incarcerated are included in the "least of these." However, to the Service Corps, we see them as Jesus sees them - valuable. Therefore we spend time at the local jail, hospital, and in the indigent communities of the island. What do we do? We help with the Alternative Learning System to support students who dropped out long ago to earn their diplomas. We introduce people to the world wide web so that they may discover what is going on in the world outside of the island. We teach computer literacy, reading literacy, run exercise classes, pray for people, feed them, distribute clothing, and most importantly, spend time giving each one attention.
The photo on the left was taken at the jail we serve at. Faces are blurred for privacy protection.
Investing into the next generations is not only wise, it's fun! We offer a multitude of opportunities for volunteers to mentor children. From sports to tutoring, to adventure scouting, and camps. The types of things you can do to guide these young minds are endless. It doesn't have to be complicated. Many of these kids are simply looking for someone to pay them a little attention. Doing so could shape their future.
We have taught English Proficiency Courses, Sea Navigation and Survival Classes for fishermen, proper scuba diving techniques for compressor divers, Leadership Principles, Team Building, Exercise Sessions, and so much more. Our newest course for graduates of the Technical Education program (TESDA) is called the "Career Enrichment Course" where students will learn how to create a business plan, apply for a loan, interview for a job, budget, and implement good ethical and workplace values. Our classes are as varied as our volunteers. So if you are looking to serve with us, maybe you'd like to teach your own area of expertise.