Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Nicaragua: Trip Reports Posted

The donor newsletter for the Nicaragua distribution has gone to print and can be downloaded from the Sleeping Children Website.

Nicaragua 2009 Photo Album
Photos are available in the Nicaragua Photo Album. You can view them by clicking the link at left.

All of the reports did not fit into the four pages of our newsletter but you can read them in their entirety here.

Here is a download link for the PDF version of the newsletter.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Phlippines 2: Mission Accomplished

From Philippines 2 Photo Album

Our last day - and the most emotional!

The last site was a senior's home in an area called St. Camillus where 400 children were excited to receive the "Gift of Love." There were two main reasons for emotional experiences today.

The first was the children: all 4,000 children who we touched and were touched by were special in the Philippines; however, the first 76 children on this final day of distribution were "special needs" children. It was hard to keep our emotions inside.

The bottom picture shows shows a young lad who just could not wait to get his hands on the box of coloured pencils - a special moment!

From Philippines 2 Photo Album

The other reason for our emotions showing was that we were saying "So Long" to such a wonderful group of people in the SCAW Core Committee. In the short time that we have been in the Philippines to distribute 4,000 bedkits, we had developed a special bond with these giving people. They will forever be in or hearts and memories. As Dr. Ito says, "We don't say Good-bye!"

And so, the distribution of 400 bedkits to the final 400 children brings us to the end of a wonderful experience in the Philippines. We say "Thank you" to our donors for making this possible and to the SCAW Core Committee and the hundreds of volunteers in the Metro Manila area for creating an unforgettable experience over the past six days.

Duncan Macgregor
for Team Philippines 2

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Monday, 23 November 2009

Philippines 2: Tatalon

From Philippines 2 Photo Album
Today, we completed another successful distribution to 800 children of Tatalon, one of the hardest hit areas in Manila.

Tomorrow will be our last distribution of 400 bedkits, and in the afternoon, Duncan, Sue and Don are off to Hong Kong then home. I felt nostalgic and felt we have been through so many great moments in the short period that we were together and now it's about to end. I want to share with you some of the memorable moments that made this trip one of my best trips for Sleeping Children.
  • A short program that starts the day is the singing of the Philippine National Anthem. I feel proud singing it with the children. After a while, Don and Duncan can actually hum the tune with the group!
  • Of course when "O Canada" is being sung, the booming voices of Dr. Ito, Jess & Boyet (SCAW Core Committee members) to support us, makes it sound like there are many people singing with gusto.
  • Sue and I enjoy opening a bedkit and individually modeling each item to the delight of the parents and children.
  • Dr. Ito & "the good looking one"
    Philippines 2 Photo Album
  • Don's "moment of fame came in Marilao. A large crowd of mothers with colourful umbrellas were cordoned off with ropes. I started shaking their hands when some bold ladies shouted "We want the good looking one" pointing at Don. I shouted for him to come over. He ran towards us and everybody cheered. It reminded me of the Rolling Stones coming into the stage. He worked the crowd to their delight and many photos were taken.
  • After Duncan's short speech about why we are there, and on behalf of the donors who would like the children to have comfortable sleep and to concentrate better in school, he would say, "Now we are ready to sing our song." We do the song and action of, "When you're happy and you know it, clap your hands." Most of the children know the song and they perform it with us. Dr. Ito wants to be our agent to put us on the road!
  • The funniest of all that kept the children giggling is Duncan's magic and his Charlie Chaplin's imitation of tripping.
  • The amazing volunteers, teachers, and clergy who prepared goodies for us after each distribution. For each distribution, dozens of volunteers showed up at each site like the Vista Verde Volunteers and the ladies in green.
  • The way the children were given snacks treated with iodized salt to give them more energy.
  • And, the wide eyes and smiles of thousands of children who are receiving the "Gift of Love" (bedkit).
Philippines Album
There are too numerous memorable moments to list, and overall it's been a great distribution. We thank the Philippine SCAW Team and their spouses with their children who actively helped in the distribution. All of these made it such a great experience.

As of today, we have distributed 3,600 bedkits - 400 to go!

Linda Taiabjee
for Team Philippines 2

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Sunday, 22 November 2009

Philippines 2: Pasig

Tony and the Sleeping Children team
From Philippines 2 Photo Album
In every SCAW distribution there are so many unsung heroes and we would like to introduce you to one of our heroes: Tony, our driver. Once you experience Manila traffic you will never complain about traffic in Canada again! We take our hats off to Tony for patiently getting us wherever we have to go safely.

When we arrived in the Philippines (Manila) on November 18th, we were amazed at the number of Christmas decorations that were everywhere -- from our hotel lobby, to the street vendors, to the houses with light displays. Christmas is a huge holiday period in the Philippines and they start celebrating it early. The SCAW team is having our own special Christmas time as we are provided with the opportunity to gift a "Gift of Love" to 4,000 Philippine children on behalf of our many donors. As we photograph the children it is also interesting to see so many labels wishing "Merry Christmas" to friends and family through the gift of a bedkit to these needy children. Yes, Christmas has come early for these children, most of whom have been victims of the recent typhoons and flooding in the Manila area. And, the Spirit of Christmas has come early to the members of the Sleeping Children team in the Philippines thanks to the generosity of SCAW donors.

From Philippines 2 Photo Album
"Thanks," for allowing us to share this feeling with these wonderful beautiful children.

The SCAW Philippines team has now distributed 2,800 bedkits over the past four days. Today bedkits were distributed in an area of Manila called Pasig to 800 children. A good portion of this area was totally flooded.

For the members of the SCAW Team, the time has gone so fast - but the memories of the children's happy faces will linger on!

Duncan Macgregor
for Team Philippines 2

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Saturday, 21 November 2009

Philippines 2: Olandes and Marilao

From Philippines 2 Photo Album
Saturday feels like every other day since we had arrived in Manila. Looking down on to the streets below, the traffic is already building by the time we leave at 8:30 am.

Our day consists of distributing a total of 800 bedkits in two different locations: Olandes and Marilao. On the way to our first distribution, we are shown one of the many areas that was extremely affected by the flooding. Although the streets are almost completely cleaned up, there are still many visible signs that show us just how high the water level rose. The water marks against many of the buildings indicate the water level rising to nine feet!

Any type of transportation used here in Manila, mainly cars and motorized tricycles ended up in huge piles as a result of the high water. As we approached Olandes and the church area where we would be distributing the first 400 bedkits, we drove by a number of mounds of dirt and debris that now covered what was once a beautiful park.

From Philippines 2 Photo Album
The boys and girls at the church in Olandes were ready to go and were sitting in a number of different classrooms. As our team leader, Duncan (Dad) searched for the right set up, Sue , Linda, and I were able to say hello to all the children patiently waiting for us.

We were greeted by loud "Good morning visitors" and big smiles. The set up for our pictures with the children and distribution of the bedkits was perfect. We were all able to see each other and the parents were able to watch their children receive a bedkit. As the 'newby' in the group, the morning was extremely special as it was my turn to actually hand the bedkit to each child. Words cannot describe my feelings. Where did the morning go!

After being treated to a wonderful lunch we were on the way to our second distribution in Marilao. The distribution was held at one of the public school areas. As we drove into the school area, we were greeted by the many parents who were waiting patiently for us to arrive and to see their children receive their bedkits. The afternoon was beautiful and once again we were able to be close to the parents so that they could see their children during the pictures. A beautiful rainbow in the sky was soon followed by a rain shower and we were forced to do our last 10 pictures under the roof.

One of my most memorable moments came when I thanked a young girl for so patiently waiting for what probably was hours before she received her bedkit. With a smiling face she said, "It was worth the wait, sir."

Although the traffic was extremely busy on the way home (We will never complain about Toronto traffic again), it gave us time to reflect quietly the days activities.

We are now half way through our distribution with 2,000 bedkits distributed.

Tomorrow is another 800 bedkits.

Don Macgregor
for Team Philippines 2

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Friday, 20 November 2009

Philippines 2: Vista Verde

From Philippines 2 Photo Album
The distribution today was at the Immaculate Conception Parish in Viste Verde. When we arrived many of our SCAW children were waiting patiently to be registered. We spent time chatting with the children and their parents. Most of the families were affected by the floods.

From Philippines 2 Photo Album

The church courtyard was being used to air the water logged bibles, hymn books, etc.

We handed out 800 bedkits at this distribution site and each SCAW child's eyes lit up when they received their SCAW bedkit. The SCAW children in Manila have been through so much and their SCAW treasures are a new beginning for each child and their family.

Sue Small
for Team Philippines 2

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Thursday, 19 November 2009

Philippines 2: The Bedkit

Here are the contents of the Philippines 2 bedkit:
  • Plastic Mat
  • Mosquito Net (LLIN)
  • Blanket
  • Sheet
  • 2 Pillows
  • Pillow case
  • 3 pairs of shorts
  • 5 T-Shirts
  • 2 Bath Towels
  • 3 Toothbrushes
  • Face Towel
  • Poncho (raincape)
  • Pair Flip Flops Slippers)
  • 2 Pairs of socks
  • School Bag
  • 6 Notebooks
  • 12 coloured pencils with case and sharpener
  • 6 pencils
  • 3 Ballpoint Pens
  • Ruler
  • Grade 2 pad
  • Intermediate pad
  • Plastic bag
Duncan Macgregor
for Team Philippines 2

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Philippines 2: First Distribution

Don & Dr. Ito
From Philippines Photo Album
It was a long way but we all made it! Duncan, Don & Sue arrived yesterday at 10:30 AM and I arrived exactly twelve hours later at 10:30 PM. We were met at the airport by Jess, the SCAW Philippine representative, and Tony, our driver for the duration of the distribution. Tony has been a constant as he has been the driver for the SCAW travelling volunteers for the last twelve years. He is a careful driver but most of all he knows how to maneuver through the crazy traffic in Manila.

After a nice breakfast at the hotel, we proceeded to our pre-distribution meeting with the Kiwanis team and visited the warehouse where the bedkits were packaged, ready for distribution. They had to give up the old warehouse for many reasons, and this time used two of Dr. Ito's homes which were converted into warehouses. The two homes which used to be beautifully furnished now contained 4,000 bedkits wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor in the livingrooms and all the bedrooms. We observed the amazing production line where six volunteers filled a huge plastic bag with sixty-two items.

The Philippines 2 Team
From Philippines Photo Album
We had our pre-distribution meeting where Dr. Ito Torres submitted: the financials, the distribution sites, a list of bedkit items, and bank statements. To quote him, he said that because they had to order the items at short notice before receiving the remittance from SCAW, that they used "face-value" as collateral. He made a face!

He explained that the SCAW Philippines distribution is a family affair. This involved the die-hard team plus their spouses who were given important responsibilities.

After a quick lunch, we proceeded to our first distribution which was at a school in Karangalan, Antipolo (Honor in English). It was especially moving because all the children were affected by the recent flooding that devastated the area. We distributed 400 Bedkits which represented 10% of the total. Emotions were overflowing not only for our team but most of all to the parents, teachers, and volunteers who were grateful as this represented a new beginning for them to recover from their loss.

So this is how our first day ended, full of anticipation for more successful and heart warming distributions in the next few days.

Linda Taiabjee
for Team Philippines 2

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Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Philippines 2: They're on the way

We just got the following brief email from the travelling team:
Hi Folks:

The longest leg to Manila is now complete. The team of three (Sue, Don, and Duncan -- Linda is travelling separately from the pack) has completed the 15-hour segment to Hong Kong with a three-hour layover. So we are sitting in an empty airport at 5:00 AM having Starbucks and Twizzlers (supplied by Sue). In three hours we will take off for Manila where we will be picked up by our hosts and head to the hotel for some needed sleep.

Tomorrow morning we will have our pre-distribution meeting. After lunch we will head to our first distribution of 400 bedkits.

We are excited to meet the children!

Don, Sue, and Duncan.

Stay tuned for more news as we receive it.

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Philippines 2: Leave your comments here

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Saturday, 14 November 2009

Philippines 2: Emergency Distribution

Our last trip in our Year of the Millionth Bedkit is planned for the Philippines. After the typhoon floods, we received an emergency request for bedkits from our contact in the Philippines, Dr. Ito Torres.

At the end of November a team is going for our second Philippines distribution of the year. They will be distributing 4,000 bedkits. The team met at the Sleeping Children office at 28 Pinehurst in Toronto on Saturday, November 14th to prepare for their trip.

Pictured (Left to Right): Don Macgregor (Toronto, ON), Linda Taiabjee (Scarborough, ON), Sue Small (Oakville, ON), Duncan Macgregor (Team Leader; Etobicoke, ON)

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Bangladesh: Trip Reports Posted

The donor newsletter for the Bangladesh distribution has gone to print and can be downloaded from the Sleeping Children Website.

This year in Bangladesh there were two Sleeping Children travelling teams, one who travelled with the Lions Club of Dhaka Supreme View to deliver 4,000 bedkits and one who travelled with the Rotary Club of Dhaka to deliver 5,000 bedkits.

Because there were an unprecedented twelve reports only part of each report was published in the print version. To read all the reports in their entirety, please go here.

Here is a download link for the PDF version of the newsletter.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Nicaragua: 5,000 Children

Today was the last day of our distribution, a happy/sad day.

Wow, 5,000 children in Nicaragua have received a bedkit and at least one hug from at least one SCAW member ... but we are now nearing our departure date from this wonderful country and all its beautiful people!

As well as handing out the very last bedkit today, we also had the honour of visiting two families who received bedkits. One child received theirs last year and the other just today.

They both eagerly welcomed us into their homes proudly displaying their beds. One family had one bed already for the entire family while the other only had a tiny hammock for the little baby. What an immense difference a bedkit will make for these humble families! I am so blessed to experience the joy of feeling the gratitude these people have for this gift.

Having the opportunity to see the difference our distributions create is right up there with hugging hundreds of children daily, seeing hundreds of smiles daily, and meeting so many beautiful people. What more could one ask for?!?

The distribution is complete, so now we have a couple of days to see a little more of Nicaragua at a slower pace ... and come down from the clouds of being involved in such a inspiring and motivating experience!

Suzanne Dobinson
for Team Nicaragua

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Thursday, 5 November 2009

Nicaragua: Rivas

Today our distribution to Rivas, located southwest of Managua, was a drive of 111 kilometres in our 24-seater bus. Our driver Juan stopped once on our one-and-a-half-hour drive to refill our cooler with ice and bottled water.

Jose Adan Delgado, Rotary, was responsible for the distribution site, his town, with children from twelve schools participating.

As the first children were changing into their blue shorts and white t-shirts, a second group was sitting on the floor in the school auditorium preparing to welcome us. After, as guests, we had been seated, Jose stood close to the school banner and addressed the children by emotionally saying "You bring much Joy to my life!" I listened to this being spoken and translated from Spanish into English and felt the sincerity from the bottom of his heart. The poster he held in his hands showed the two countries of Canada and Nicaragua joined by the clasp of two hands which emphasized the lessons being taught in the school community.

A snapshot of our site distribution would have shown:
  1. Ted in front of a tripod in the blazing sun.
  2. Senora Delgado sitting at a school desk checking the names of children receiving bedkits.
  3. Linda T and myself placing the children for their photos ... receiving rewarding smiles with the aid of Santa and Lion puppets, and blowing bubbles.
  4. Jack, the team floater, assisting with the little details.
  5. Jose placing the straps from the children's personal plastic bags over their wrists ... always with an encouraging word, smile, and hug.
  6. Jackie recording the labels/photos with a total of 495.
  7. Suzanne, with a hug and smile placing the blue bag in each child's hand ... the heavy mattress carried by a high school student.
  8. Volunteer high school students and parents helping in the dressing room, directing children from location to location, serving a drink and snack to each child.

This day brought joy to my life ... a direct quote from a man I shall always remember.

Love and Laughter,

Linda L
for Team Nicaragua

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Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Nicaragua: Nandismo

From Nicaragua 2009 Photo Album
Today was a big day for us as we had to deliver over 600 bedikits to 600 deserving children in 4 different schools. We arrived at the school at Nandismo to be greeted by an excited crowd of children, their parents, teachers, and the mayor.

Violetta, our Rotarian partner, had set up stations around the school very efficiently. It was a small school so we were not spread out far from each other. Movement and communication were easily accomplished. The volunteers were very well-trained and knew their roles.

Today I was a floater and trouble shooter so this role allowed me to see all phases of the operation. The process worked so well we were able to obtain our goal of 600 bedkit deliveries in a little over 3 1/2 hours.

The children were so happy and many parents expressed their thanks both verbally and by big hugs. The smiles and the hugs always seem to make the sweat and the tiredness very worthwhile.

Violetta invited us to her home in Nandismo for a beautiful lunch and social time. Then we drove a kilometre away to a very beautiful lagoon surrounded by mountains and several volcanos. One of them was blowing smoke. Something we don't see very often except in Nicaragua.

On the way home on the bus, the team decided to honour two of our Nicaraguan counterparts, Franz and Ameila, by inviting them to our little club. A humourous induction took place and they graciously accepted our invitation. We soon arrived home tired but happy.

Hot showers were earned by everyone, after all it was another rewarding day for all concerned!

Jack Diverty
for Team Nicaragua

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Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Nicaragua: San José de Los Remates

From Nicaragua 2009 Photo Album
Yesterday was very tiring but extremely rewarding. After an amazing two-hour journey through the beautiful Nicaraguan mountains, we arrived at the old Spanish town of San José de Los Remates. What an unexpected oasis: interlocking brick streets, colourful tiled entrances, verandas ornamented with intricate grill work, freshly painted homes, and lush gardens. It was obvious they had prepared their town for visitors.

We were greeted by Eryn, a Peace Corp worker from the States, who was extremely helpful with translations and dealings with the town folk. The mayor herself had prepared the volunteers well, making our delivery smooth. Unfortunately, one of the buses delivering the children had a minor collision and the distribution was delayed for quite some time while we waited for those children to arrive. We delivered 500 kits to children from 13 schools.

Entertainment by several little tots, who had just returned from winning a folk dance championship was really special and throughout the day the children were led in pinata games. It was an extremely energizing experience. At the end of the distribution we were each given woven baskets of oranges and lots of hugs.

Great fun!

Jacquie Diverty
for Team Nicaragua

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Monday, 2 November 2009

Nicaragua: Another successful day

Today, November 2nd, our destination was Dario-Matagalpa, 70 kilometres north of Managua to distribute 429 Bedkits to their children.
From Nicaragua 2009 Photo Album
The Managua team of young Rotarac volunteers and Mr. Williams promptly arrived as scheduled. We passed through mountains and lush fields in different shades of green. The rains that fell in the last few nights brought this amazingly picturesques scenery. We arrived at the distribution site where all the children, their moms, grandmoms, teachers, and volunteers waited for us eagerly.

Ted selected the best photo site. We were so lucky today because the sun was bright and there was an open area where the route for the children was short and directly led them to the homeroom where the bedkits were kept.

My job today was to prepare the children for the photo shoot. Suzanne pulled the labels while she and I made the children sit properly and made sure their blue and white uniform from the bedkit was properly tucked in. We made them feel good and happy by blowing bubbles, tickling them with our puppets Santa and Lion, and sometimes spraying them with cool water. These brought out giggles that were hard to stop from some kids. Consequently, I feel that these kids gave us their most beautiful smiles.

From Nicaragua 2009 Photo Album
We all agreed these children, including the ones from our previous distributions in the last six days, were mostly cheerful and very charming. They had been allowed to attend classes in whatever clothing they had before because they were so poor that only very few of them could afford the regulation white and blue uniform and black shoes. I believe that the wonderful new white and blue uniforms provided by SCAW contributed to a new feeling of self-confidence for all of these children.

The distribution was completed in no time and we got back early enough to give us time to catch up on our sleep after the long ride home last night from Yalaguina which was 220 kilometres away.

Another successful day for the Nicaragua Team!

Linda Taiabjee
for Team Nicaragua

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Sunday, 1 November 2009

Nicaragua: Yaliguina

From Nicaragua 2009 Photo Album
We travelled to the community Yaliguina which is located close to the Honduras border. We were out the door at 6 AM and drove for three and a half hours to get there. Some of the children told me they were at the school waiting for us at 7 AM.

The Rotary and Rotaract volunteers have been travelling with us on a bus to each distribution and with so much time on the bus together today, we had a great opportunity to get to know each other better.

This was definitely a poor community with very grateful children who received bedkits. As I was seating one of the children for the picture, she grabbed my hands and with a wonderfully bright smile said "Thank you for the package!"

So much excitement and gratitude for this small gift! We again were offered clear proof of how important all of this work is!

We arrived home at 10 PM after a very long and fulfilling day!

Suzanne Dobinson
for Team Nicaragua

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