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give a fish or teach to fish?

There are situations where one just needs a little help from someone else – just to get by.

I was born and raised in the Philippines. I had seen poor conditions and wished every one has a chance to be better.  In 2005, I returned to the Philippines, after being away for 21 years. With that visit, I was encouraged to help make a difference.

The kids and I, together with my cousin, developed a small organization (SISBA) that helps the impoverished children in the Philippines – my home country. The mission is to encourage young children here in the US to put aside – as little as a quarter a day – to help with the child’s education. The scholarship fund helps with transportation and school supplies.

In return, once in a few months, we ask the scholars and their mothers to update us with the child’s academic achievements. Mothers play an essential role since they are the ones responsible in motivating their children to continue school, and do well in school.

We initially had a required grade point average. However, with the poor environment that the child lives in, most of the times – just passing a subject matter was a tough undertaking. So we just encouraged them to do better in school and to try to pass the class.

This year, our good intentions were put to test – after 6 years, the mothers seemed to have lost the discipline of sending their kids to school. They had failed in providing feedback about the child’s progress in school. Although, they still look for the scholarship money, their dedication to their responsibilities seemed to dwindle.

And now, we are faced with a lot of questions:

 Do we continue to provide assistance?

There are other poor communities that can benefit from the scholarship money. Do we abandon those who obviously need help?

What would you do?

This week, a few mothers through are in Kenya visiting health clinics, getting to know more about women entrepreneurs, meeting with educators about early education and other programs that empower and encourages women in Africa – the fight against global poverty and disease. Go check it out, sign the petition to keep the funding, be aware and be involved. 

 (photo credits Ramon Dompor of


  1. That is a wonderful way of helping out the needy ones, but what a tough question you put out here...

    I hope that you will find a way to get the answer you need. I know the need from there but truly, each of us must do our part when a blessing is being given. That requires us to be responsible or be personally accountable as we accept that blessing, whether it is a material or non-material things.

    The "fish" is already there...But even those who hunt for fish work even a little to find it. Blessings.

  2. I love that you started such an organization! So often people just feel bad about the state of things, but don't feel they have what it takes to make a difference. Having said that, and on to your question, perhaps you could set some goals or objectives for the current families and then if those goals and objectives aren't met, would it be possible or worth it to find other families in need who will take seriously the responsibilities that come with the rewards?

  3. @Rcubes, well put! Praying for guidance -- hopefully the mothers will realize their responsibilty.

    @Jessica, we're contemplating on what to do. We definitely can't reward those who don't seem to what to help themselves.


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