Norwegian Sailors raise money for UNICEF
Five Norwegian sailors turned up in Manila last week to visit us at UNICEF Philippines. Kyrre, Otto, Slavica, Marius and Marthe from To Fluer are currently sailing around the world on a trip that will last until 2011 and have decided to raise money for UNICEF and Child Friendly Schools in Africa during their journey. Why you might think? Well, said with the sailors own words: ‘It’s a lifelong dream of seeing the world and a heartfelt desire to contribute.’
Being a Norwegian myself, I felt proud to meet fellow country men who want to contribute to the great work UNICEF is doing all over the world. I also felt proud to show them some of the great work we are doing here in the Philippines, so I decided to take them to visit the Alternative Learning session that Childhope, a UNICEF partner is conducting for street children in Manila. The alternative learning system is targeted for out-of-school youths and adults who cannot afford regular schooling. The students learn by modules which they study on their own and then discuss in class with the teacher.
Artist in the making. Marius is helping the children with their art project.
Otto and Kyrre told the children about their journey to the Philippines and they had brought an inflatable globe to show where Norway is. All the children agreed that Norway was very far away and they were amazed that the guys had been able to sail all the way here. The sailors on the other hand were impressed by the art projects the children were doing and I think they were moved when some of the girls preformed a song about love and hope.
There was definitely a lot of love in the classroom on this hot Wednesday, a lot of love and laughter. For children living on the streets visits like these become a much welcomed distraction to their daily life of survival. The sailors gave so much of themselves and showed great interest and compassion for all of the children they met. I am sure that if it was up to both the sailors and the children then they could have spent a whole week together.
The next day I took them to visit another UNICEF partner, Pangarap Foundation and their shelter for street children. The children at the shelter have taken the difficult step to leave the street and here they get a chance to change their lives and to return to school. Many of the children also get reunited with their families. Also here there was time for play and laughter and I know that several of the children are now dreaming of becoming sailors when they grow up.
The sailors also visit the Mobile Education Van (MEV), which provides alternative learning for the street children through films and discussions on topics such as UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Substance Abuse Prevention Education, STI-HIV/AIDS Prevention etc.
It is great to meet people as genuine as the sailors and I know that their journey will inspire people all over the world to contribute to a better future for children less fortunate then themselves. The sailors were very impressed with the work that UNICEF, Childhope and Pangarap are doing in the Philippines and this is the letter they wrote to UNICEF after their visit:
We had such an amazing time in Manila. Silje and the rest of the UNICEF crew truly gave us an experience to remember. I am impressed with the commitment we witnessed during our limited stay.
The interaction between UNICEF Philippines and the local NGOs (in this case, Childhope and The Pangarap Foundation)strengthens my belief in the fact that supporting UNICEF is the most effective way of reaching out to unfortunate children of the world.
Rarely do I encounter true idealism. In Manila it happened twice in two days. Former street child Butch Nerja from Childhope and founder Father Francis of The Pangarap Foundation showed extraordinary devotion. Turning love in to action is made possible due to the funding and guidance of a capable UNICEF.
We are gratefully leaving the Philippines with a strengthened belief in UNICEF, and a boosted motivation to help facilitate people like Butch and Francis around the world.
Kyrre and the To Fluer crew
In the Philippines you can support UNICEF and our work for children by becoming a Champion for Children. Click on https://www.unicef.org/philippines/supportunicef_championsforchildren.html or call our donation hotline (632) 758-1000 / 758-1442 (Mon to Fri, 8 am to 5 pm).
Visit: www.tofluer.com to read more about the Sailors journey around the world
Written by Silje Vik Pedersen, Emergency Communication Officer
Photos by Benhur Arcayan