20 months on board the Yellow Boat

Over the last 20 months, I have been on board the Yellow Boat of Hope.  It has been one awesome ride and in September, it’s going to take me to New York where I will begin my fellowship as one of the Global Fellows of the Acumen Fund.

Photo by VJ Villafranca

Looking back at this almost 2 year journey, I couldn’t imagine how far we’ve gone.

Doc Anton and I were talking earlier about our reflections on the book “Leaving Microsoft to Change the World” by John Wood, the founder of the global organization Room to Read which has built over 9,200 libraries all over the globe and has impacted over four million children.  They have also built over 1,200 schools.  It has been a remarkable journey for John Wood, from being one of Microsoft’s top man in Asia, to becoming a global educator.

And Doc Anton shared to me that though we are not Microsoft executives, we are passionate storytellers, quite possibly as passionate as John Wood, who want to share the inspiring stories of these children who struggle to go to school and also do something about it.

I’ve never imagined that our small little boat building operation would one day become a foundation.

Earlier today, I shared the Yellow Boat Project story with the AgriBusiness and Countryside Development Foundation of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) and I was really impressed with the people who were members of this prestigious organization.

I was amazed at the work that some of these organizations who belong to MAP were doing and it made me realize that the country is really poised to become one of the biggest economies in the world by 2050 as recently predicted by HSBC.

Our key challenge, in my humble opinion, is truly our human infrastructure.  That is why the education sector badly needs all the help it can get.

We need to walk the last mile to make sure that education is accessible to everyone up to secondary education.  We also need to make sure that the quality is at par with the rest of the world.

I cannot think of any reason why the country, with support from the government, the private sector, the academe and the nonprofit sectors, cannot achieve these goals.

Equipping our people with a high quality education will allow them to pursue their dreams in life.

Now, going back to this remarkable journey, the team behind the Yellow Boat Project has achieved the following results over the last 20 months:

* Built 154 yellow boats in 3 communities (2 in Zamboanga and 1 in Masbate); with 3 more coming in Negros Occidental;

* Built 1 (one) makeshift 4-classroom school in Masbate; with 2 more classrooms coming;

* Built 1 (one) day-care center in Zamboanga with funding from Tzu Chi Foundation;

* Built 1 (one) half-way house for use by expectant mothers in Zamboanga led by I CAN make a difference;

* Raised approximately $33,750 (that’s almost P1.5m) in the last 20 months through Facebook and online calls for donations (this is a rough estimate and only based on the boat donations);

* Created 6 distinct Facebook groups that are part of the project, each with a different local community leader;

* Gained Foundation status (Philippines) as of May 23, 2012;

The yellow boats in Isla Mababoy, Guinhadap, Monreal, Masbate (Bicol region)

And these are just some of the quantifiable results.

There are so many other results such as bringing both hope and dignity to these communities, the medical and dental missions, the health clinics, the provision of school supplies and other needs, donations of books, and helping some high school graduates secure college scholarships.

In time, we will get better at this.

In time, we will grow and implement more impact-driven programs.

We would not be here today if it weren’t for YOU – supporters, volunteers, donors and FRIENDS, who have journeyed with us on board the yellow boat of hope.

So let me take this opportunity to thank YOU! 🙂

We really appreciate it!

And I wish you journey with us for 20 more years!

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