Voluntourism Philippines.

Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation Steers Kids’ Future Toward a Brighter Tomorrow

Many children living in far-flung areas are left with no choice but to cross rivers and climb rocky terrains just to attend school. The trip to and from school can last for hours, depending on the weather and the trail condition.

This is the scenario that confronts the children living in remote communities in the country, where roads and bridges are nowhere in sight. And because of severe poverty, many students drop out after attending a few classes.


At first glance, the challenges seem almost insurmountable. But for Anton Mari Lim, the founder of the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation, the answer can be found in the form of a simple wooden watercraft.

Doctor Anton Mari Lim (right) and a female volunteer shows off their paddle during one of their outreach programs.


Lim shares, “Sometimes the most complex problems, require a very simple solution. For us, the boat is the instant solution.”

The Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation, formerly known as the Zamboanga Funds for Little Kids, has donated over a thousand boats to some 71 communities across the country. These boats traverse rivers to help children get to their school safe and dry.


These days, the foundation has ramped up their outreach efforts. They now provide “long-term solutions” such as dormitories, day care centers, renovated classrooms, regular dental and medical missions and livelihood programs. The foundation also offers scholarships and
school supplies to children in need.

Lim enthuses that as of now, they already have 11 scholars who have graduated college and are now working here and abroad.


Local Implementers


According to Lim, the foundation is 100 percent volunteer-driven, which means that all the donated funds go straight to the intended beneficiaries from various communities. 

Lim (second from left) and his volunteers turn over a Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation paddle to a local government official.


Before starting a project, Lim shares that they create a linkage with the local government. From there, the officials can lay down the immediate needs of the area.

They also have local counterparts who help to ensure the sustainability of the projects. The volunteers undergo online training headed by Lim, his partner Jay Jaboneta, and other “internet warriors,” most of whom are past beneficiaries.


“We train them online. We create chat rooms so we can answer their questions,” Lim explains.


Volunteers


Lim shares that the majority of the volunteers who help in the foundation are American high school and college students and European young professionals. The interested volunteers, who mostly come in groups, communicate with them through Facebook and email.


He adds that they regularly welcome students from their partner schools in Japan, Singapore, and U.S.A.


As of now, the immersion program is conducted in Palawan and other areas in Cebu such as Malapascua, Caohagan, Daan Bantayan, and Mactan.


The Yellow Boat’s volunteer program does not require payment but all travelers have to be insured and must be able to shoulder all the  food and lodging expenses. The Yellow Boat staff can help the volunteers by doing all the reservations to ensure that they get their money’s worth.


The Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation foreign volunteers pose with the children from a partner community.

Lim says that the volunteers have the freedom to determine the duration of their stay. But they are encouraged to go around the country and help other provinces in need.

Volunteer Work


Lim says that their programs entail lending a helping hand.


“In Yellow Boat, it’s not just about seeing the sights. There is hands-on experience, you have to contribute something to the community. You can donate school supplies, repaint classrooms, paint walls, or build boats. We are heavy on volunteerism,” he explains.


Lim shares that the participants are satisfied with the experience as evidenced by the volume of repeat volunteers. “Yes, we have repeaters,” he says. “So that means they had a good time here.”


Passion and Shared Responsibility


Lim is relentless in helping their partner communities. When asked about his commitment to helping, he says, “I get my passion from the kids. When you see them, they do not complain. The parents are willing to sacrifice. It makes you realize that your problems are small compared to theirs.”


There is also a sense of fulfillment in drawing others to partake in the joy of helping others. “Everybody can be a part of the solution. The privilege of helping is not limited to government officials. It is an opportunity to all. Let’s come together and help.”


For Lim, big and small donations are powerful enough to drive change in communities. “Just do not underestimate one boat, one dollar, or ten dollar donation. That is already a big thing. Once combined, that is the only time when you will know its impact to the community.” 



Volunteers waiting for the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation beneficiaries to arrive.
If you want to learn how to help Yellow Boat Foundation, visit yellowboat.org/ or their Facebook account (https://www.facebook.com/YellowBoat/).
Anna Pangalangan Anna Pangalangan Author

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