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Scholarship of Hope

The Bukas-Loob sa Diyos Scholarship of Hope (BLD SOH) is a program under the poverty alleviation mission of BLD Covenant Community.  It is an educational assistance program which seeks to provide material and spiritual needs to poor students under the country’s public educational system.  The program seeks out student beneficiaries without discrimination between the high-achievers and the academically challenged. The only criteria being used is that the beneficiary should be poor and that he/she has the willingness to acquire education.

History of BLD Scholarship of Hope

The BLD Scholarship of Hope was born as an answer to the BLD Community Spiritual Director Archbishop Angel Lagdameo’s encouragement to have an education assistance program for the poor children of society.  In his letter to the BLD community, he expressed his desire for “every Full-term District, Full-fledged District and District in Process to include… the offering of scholarship to the poorest of the poor students (not necessarily only the intelligent).  The BLD everywhere, as individuals or communities must help alleviate poverty through works of charity.”

The seed funds used for the SOH’s first operations came from the sale of donated paintings of the couple Rad and Puchette Escano from the latter’s Ode to the Father Exhibition (see http://odetothefatherforsoh.weebly.com).  These initial funds were used to start up the Scholarship of Hope program at GK-Villa Paraiso and in an elementary school in Dibut, Aurora Province where the BLD Aurora/ AFP-PNP adopted and funded the giving of assistance to an entire school.

Many BLD districts have already included the BLD SOH in their Mission Apostolate activities, either as donors or operating districts.  As more and more poor children become the beneficiaries of BLD SOH, we can then truly respond to the words from Isaiah 58: 6 – 8: “This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking very yoke; sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own.”

The Basic Scholarship of Hope Program

BLD Districts worldwide are encouraged to form its own SOH Program, by raising or donating funds and adopting scholars to be supported by the program.  Funding is basically provided by international districts, while local districts in the Philippines organize and operate the program.  Local fundraising is also done.  A global SOH ministry was set-up to coordinate and monitor the various aspects of the SOH, among donating and implementing BLD districts.

The BLD Scholarship of Hope provides the basic necessities to school children attending public schools.  Since, public schooling (elementary and high school) in the Philippines is given free by the government, BLD SOH provides school uniforms, shoes, bags, school materials, transportation and cash allowance for food to its scholars.  Most often, poor school children do not go to school because they may not have enough financial means to pay for these basic school needs.

The Scholarship of Hope Tutorial Program

As the BLD Scholarship of Hope gained grounds and continued to touch the lives of the poor school children in the Philippines and as more people are moved to contribute to its efforts, there is now a need to augment the material and spiritual needs of the scholars with proper tutoring.  It is not enough to give them funds so that they can go to school or just teach them catechism so that they will be good Christians.

The present state of our educational system is challenged by over-crowding. In worst cases, a public school teacher has to tackle 60 students per class.  Thus, it is impossible for a teacher to give each child special attention.  The sad reality is there are public school students who graduate from elementary without even knowing how to read or even do math as applied to real life.  Some of our scholars, since the scholarship was designed without aptitude requirement, had a hard time passing the grade requirements.  Sometimes, they also had to contend with their own parents’ attitude towards education.  For example, because of poverty and need to earn a living, they would rather encourage their children to help at home rather than go to school.

God’s wisdom led the BLD Scholarship of Hope to address this problem by providing volunteer tutors to the SOH Scholars.   As a pilot, some members of BLD Manila’s Singles Ministry go to GK Villa Paraiso on weekends to tutor the students on various subjects they have difficulty with.  There are 31 children who participated in the tutorial program, SY 2012-2012.  Around 16 of them are scholars of SOH and the rest are non-scholars.  The non-scholars are also from GK Villa Paraiso who attended the catechism classes conducted by the Singles in 2010.  There has been marked improvement in the children’s vocabulary and spelling skills since the tutorial started last year.  There is also improvement in their reading and comprehension skills.  This would further improve as the program progresses.  More important are the non-academic improvements noted such as increased attendance in school, improved self-confidence, and the children are starting to develop the love for reading and positive attitude towards their studies. There is great interest in replicating the tutorial program in other BLD SOH areas.

The BLD Scholarship of Hope Enhanced Learning Program for Pre-Schoolers

The BLD Scholarship of Hope Enhanced Learning Program (ELP) was born from the philosophy that if we must help make any sweeping contribution to the value and intellectual growth of the poor children of our country, we must already teach them while they are in pre-school.  And to address the problem of the parents’ despondence, we must inspire and, more importantly, involve them in the learning process.  Most of the parents themselves have not had the opportunity to finish their schooling.  Some parents even have not gone past grade three.

Aided by World Familia Missions, the BLD SOH developed a curriculum for children as early as three years old to teach them how to read with comprehension.  But the best and most special part of the program is that it involves the parent themselves.  The parents are trained to teach their children and they too learn with their children.  The parents of the pre-schoolers undergo a special training program to empower them to be teachers of their kids. They, then become “mommy aides” to the teachers of the ELP.

With God’s unfailing love, on May 31, 2012, the SOH Enhanced Learning Program produced 17 proud pre-school graduates and 17 pairs of empowered parents with renewed hope and passion for learning.  The direction is to replicate the SOH ELP Program in other BLD districts.

Funding and Donation

The BLD Scholarship of Hope program needs funding.  BLD members and benefactors are called upon to support this program through financial donations so that the work that has been started will continue and bring hope to the poor and deprived children by providing them access to good education.