Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Difference Between an Empty Mind and an Open Mind is Education

Dear friends and family,

I can attest to the power of education in transforming communities. A good and relevant education is a vehicle for empowerment, self-sufficiency, and lasting change. Here at IT Tender my team has invested their sweat and tears into developing educational programs. Our goal is to use education to spark creativity, stir up faith, and ignite purpose in the lives of our clients. As the 2012-2013 school year in the Philippines came to an end in March, we realized how much God has blessed us by entrusting to us programs that produce measurable results in our community.

On April 13th we celebrated the results of our investments over the last year. This day was our annual Recognition and Graduation Day for the clients in our three educational programs: the "Simula" (Beginning) Learning Center for preschool children, the "Hakbang" (Footsteps) sponsorship program for elementary and secondary students, and the "Pagbabago" (Transformation) tutoring program for out-of-school youth. We honoured each of the students for all their hard work and thanked parents and staff for their partnership in making a better future for this generation. We gave special awards and certificates to those graduating from their respective studies. I also gave a short message of encouragement to the graduates and proud families.

Our team prays before the graduation ceremony of our students
Our sponsored children await their certificates for moving up to the next level in their education
Proud parents, teachers, and guests
The children in our SLC preschool perform a native, Filipino dance
On April 6th, my teammates and I visited a local prison to encourage and spend time with the inmates. Pastor John Basiwa shared a message at the prison church where many of the inmates actively participate on the worship team and staff. They were very welcoming to us and were surprised to have a foreign visitor. I gave a few words of encouragement, reminding them that despite our contrasting cultures and appearance, I am their brother in Christ. Like anyone, I've made countless mistakes, but God's unconditional love and His calling to love others gives each of us great value and purpose. For obvious reasons, I wasn't able to take pictures or videos of this activity, but maybe that's for the best - as the inmates also asked me to sing a solo in Tagalog as part of the worship service! I had no choice but to give my best in singing a well-known Tagalog worship song. My teammate Gabby backed me up on the guitar.

I've also taken the opportunity to visit a few more of IT Tender's partner churches and to provide a training program for their leaders. The topic of the training is "The 10 Keys of Management" (e.g., #1 - accountability, #2 - developing a leadership team, etc). The 10 keys and their practical application are taught over the course of 5 sessions. Pastor John passed on this program to me and assisted me in how to teach the lessons in Tagalog. My teammate and fellow missionary Karin Jose from England will be helping these churches implement a feeding program for street children in their communities.

Training the leaders at a church in the province of Cavite

Things are coming along with the preparations for SMART Kids and it's launch in the upcoming school year. Through careful research and case study analysis we have narrowed down the list of potential clients who are the most in need for this program. We are excited to finally accommodate children under 4 years old at the IT Tender Drop-In Center. The benefits of early learning are lifelong, and the need for good health care, proper nutrition, and a safe environment is critical. I'm heartbroken to hear stories of children in our community dying of preventable conditions, like diarrhea, as a result of an unsanitary diet and environment.

A potential recipient for our upcoming SMART Kids program
Thanks to my supporters, I have a monthly budget for personal ministries which I can use for the regular needs of SMART Kids (e.g., diapers, food, etc). However, I am hoping yet to raise some funds for the start-up costs (e.g., educational toys, potty training aids, baby bath tub, etc.). I've priced the items needed at various children's/infant's stores and created a detailed budget that you're free to request if you're interested in contributing towards any of the items. The total set-up cost for purchasing all these items is $235 (or 9,415 pesos). Thanks for praying for this program and considering supporting it's launch!

Take care,


ps. I always enjoy snail mail, and if you're considering sending something by post, you can now send it directly to my address here:

John Coffey
Starmall Alabang, 5th Floor, Unit 23
South Superhighway, Alabang
Muntinlupa City
1771 Philippines

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