By Ladylove May B. Baurile
The Counseling and Testing Division (CTD) of the University of the Philippines Los Baños, along with the UPLB Gabay Volunteer Corps and Kairos band organized “Off the Street, On to School” program yesterday at the Student Union Lobby for the street children and their parents in Los Baños.
Separate programs were prepared for both children and their parents. A talent-values camp highlighted the children’s program, wherein members of the UPLB Gabay Volunteer Corps helped children showcase their talents like singing, dancing, acting and drawing. The volunteers and members of the Rotary Club of Los Baños also gave testimonials and snacks afterwards.
Meanwhile, the seminar for parents was facilitated by Dr. Leticia Afuang, Office of Student Affairs (OSA) director, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
“Ginagawa namin ang ‘Off the street, On to School’ para ma-encourage namin ang mga bata, particularly mga street children sa Los Baños na nagbebenta ng sampaguita at mga mani, na mag-aral… kaya nagbibigay tayo ng school supplies… para makita rin nila ang importansya ng pag-aaral (We hold the ‘Off the street, On to School’ program to encourage children to study, especially those who live in the streets or those who spend time selling sampaguitas and peanuts…we give out school supplies as well for them to also see the importance of schooling),” said Gama Javier, a GABAY volunteer.
According to Dr. Erick Vernon Dy, counselor and head of UPLB Gabay Volunteer corps, the event aims at assisting parents and also to help them develop the passion of teaching education’s importance to their children.
Dance competition, training for indigent but academically excellent students, giving of books by the Kairos Band to Bernaldo Calara Elementary School and recognition for long-time supporters of the program were also done. At the end, the counselors and volunteers gave loot bags with school materials and clothing to the participating families.
“Basically gusto namin makatulong sa mga kabataan dito sa Elbi lalo na ngayong pasko kaya nga ako nagvolunteer dito kasi gusto ko yung ginagawa nila at naisip ko na isa rin iyon sa mga gusto kong gawin bilang isang kabataan (Basically, we wanted to help the children here in Los Baños especially now that it’s Christmas season… I volunteered for this event because I support what Gabay does and I also thought that this is one activity that I would want to pursue as part of the youth),” shared Cheska Bon, another volunteer.
The “Off th Street, on to School” outreach program is an annual event in UP Los Baños and is now in its 8th year.