By: Marylou Dellosa and Suganthi Singarayar 1. Jocytte Musa – GK Youth Australia The first speaker, Ms Jocytte Musa from Australia, used her experiences of volunteering with GK in the Philippines and Australia since 2004 to talk about the importance of having “one goal, one mission, one people and one movement”. She said that in Australia the youth had responded to “the call of the poor”. Even in Australia, a relatively rich country with the presence of a welfare safety net, there are poor. This, she said, was not the reflection of a lack of resources, or lack of money, but rather a lack of caring and sharing. And it was possible to make a change through small things, even through the way you lived your life. Going on holiday could mean not staying at a luxury resort, but rather doing something with a purpose, and that is what GK offers. In Australia the youth have organised sports activities and musical events and the GK Youth Great Adventure Tours (GKYGAT) that have been to the Philippines, Cambodia and Papua New Guinea. Ms Musa said that the area in which the GK village is located in PNG is one of the most dangerous, and yet when you step into the village you are safe. She said that experiencing a YGAT was more important than hearing her talk about it, because you actually got to see the transformation that occurs in poor communities as a result of GK’s presence there. GK Youth has worked with other charitable organisations in Australia including St Vincent de Paul. Musa also said that you would need to learn to smile because inevitably pictures would be taken and they would be posted on Facebook!
2. Mr Olivier Girault – Chair, GK France Mr Olivier Girault said that in the last 12 months GK Europe has started to target a new audience: students over 18 years old who are at universities or Grande Ecoles – business schools and the base for engineering schools.
Mr Girault found out about GK through the KLM website when he was booking a ticket for a friend in the Philippines. KLM was celebrating an anniversary, probably its 18th, and instead of a party they asked people to donate money to sponsor a village in Bagong Silang, one of the biggest slums in Metro Manila. Mr Girault was so impressed with this idea that he fired off an email saying that he would like to be part of this project and he would also like to donate some houses. The lady who was in charge of the Corporate Social Responsibility program in Manila told him that the next time he was in Manila, she would organise a meeting with Tito Tony. The rest, as they say, is history.
In France, students usually have to do a one to three month internship, usually at the end of their first year, and more and more schools are encouraging students to do them with NGOs. GK Europe organises 6-12 students to take part in immersive experiences that can last from four to 12 weeks (usually six) during the French summer break, which is from July to August in different GK villages. These programs are organised through AIESEC . Mr Girault said that there is also a trend, particularly in France, but also in England for social business and social entrepreneurs – more universities and colleges are offering these programs. He said that the difference between a regular company and a social business is that in a regular company you try to maximise profits but in a social business you optimise profits. In a social business you consider not only your stockholders, but also your employees and all the stakeholders around the company, it may be that the stockholders receive less dividends but the employees and the stakeholders will also benefit.
Two weeks after his presentation at the Summit, Girault took GK’s founder Tito Tony Meloto and Human Heart Nature which had just won the Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2011 award to Europe to present a case study to European Universities to show them what a social business is capable of doing.
In 2010 GK Europe sent 24 students to the Philippines, including Mr Girault’s niece and nephew. In Summer 2011, 80-100 students went on immersion trips. They all mentioned that their experiences were rich, intense and human. Mr Girault would like students to be immersed for longer, possibly six months, particularly those involved in social business. He would also like to see Filipino students attending business schools in Europe and European students attending universities in the Philippines for six months to a year to learn about each other’s culture but also to work in the area of social business.
AIESEC Philippines http://www.aiesec.org/philippines/
AIESEC Australia http://www.aiesecaustralia.org/
WEF World Entrepreneurship Forum
3. Professor Albert Teo – National University of Singapore Associate Professor Albert Teo has been part of the GK story since 2008 when GK’s founder Tony Meloto visited the National University of Singapore (NUS) to introduce Gawad Kalinga to students there.
The GK Hope Initiative Singapore program works as a hub linking Singapore and the Philippines and helps to develop partnerships, innovation, education and research. NUS business students have to undertake a practicum in their final undergraduate year and that is when groups of students have worked with Paolo and Lena at GK Hi. Through this program, students have created marketing materials for GK Philippines, fundraised through charity events, and sold various foodstuffs during the semester.
Professor Teo also works with the Scholars Program – a multi-disciplinary honours program. Groups of Scholars students do short-term immersions in the Philippines. One of the problems Professor Teo found was that while the students return from the Philippines enthused and enthusiastic it is not practical for them to undertake long-term consultation practicums with the communities that they have engaged with while in the Philippines. The distance and their regular study programs get in the way. So he is looking to partner with universities in Metro Manila. With that in mind he and a few of his colleagues visited the University of the Philippines and Ateneo University to see whether students in the Scholars program could partner with students at some of the Filipino universities allowing them to work on joint projects, do immersion or study trips together and then when the students return to Singapore, the projects that they initiated with their Filipino classmates could be sustained and moved into the future.
4. Rev. Father Chito Butardo – vice President, Administration and Student Affairs Father Saturnino Urios University Father Saturnino Urios University is the first home grown university in the Caraga Region Mindanao Philippines, the poorest of the country’s 17 administrative and autonomous regions. Father Butardo said that FSUU is embedded, just like GK, in the context of poverty, landlessness, homelessness and hunger. The University is looking to form self-determined Filipino men and women whose intellectual, moral and spiritual values are translated into concrete practices that create spaces for justice and peace, preserve the bond of ecological interconnectedness and empower communities for human development.
Between 2004 and 2005, FSUU re-evaluated their approach to Community Extension Service (CES) and a developmental framework was adopted. At the same time a service oriented curriculum which went beyond the mandatory National Service Training Program or NSTP was designed and implemented. It was at this opportune time that GK was introduced to the university and a commitment was made to the programs of GK. Knowledge and skills learnt in the classroom were applied to the community through CES programs. As a GK CES program was institutionalised and integrated into the curriculum, a shift occurred from the community being a social laboratory to the community being a social partner.
The Urion transformative model called D 4 E: Dialogue, Empathy, Engagement, Empowerment and Enrichment, was implemented as part of their basic education program. The administrators, faculty and staff as well as the alumni and retirees, and parents and graduate students got involved. This model combines exposure, immersion programs, service learning projects, curriculum based and volunteer services for the environment, animals, marginalised and vulnerable sectors such as abandoned children, elderly, prisoners, and youth.
Through his work with young people, Father Butardo has observed that despite the ubiquity of social media, young people can sometimes feel disconnected from society, family and government. This disconnectedness, he said, would not be addressed by the virtual world, which allows connectedness without responsibility. He said: “The virtual must be supplanted by the real, the bits and pixels by flesh and blood. The GK vision of building a nation empowered by people with faith and patriotism, a nation made up of caring and sharing communities dedicated to eradicate poverty and restore human dignity complements FSUU’s commitment to build Christian communities where people can be self-sustaining, self-nourishing and self-governing. The synthesis of both is the solution to Filipino youth/students disconnectedness”.
5. Ms Jeanne Carmel L. Puertollano, Coordinator, GK De La Salle University Ms Puertollano said that of the 15,000 students who apply to De La Salle University every year, only 3,500 get accepted. If you have not been to a school that prepares you well for the entrance exam you are not going to have a chance to enter La Salle. So, she asked, how does La Salle aim to make it more of a school for the poor? By committing a minimum of 20 percent of its student places to full scholarship students. If you come from a public school or a lower to middle-class family, but are intelligent and can handle college life, you can obtain a scholarship. The scholarship entitles you to one trimester of tuition – on the condition that you have to maintain your grades, which then enable you to renew your scholarship every trimester until you graduate. Scholarship students also have the opportunity to become research assistants which provide them with some income while they study.
La Salle partners with poor communities as part of its social engagement program but it does not really know where to source poor students, and that is where its partnership with GK is effective. GK enables it to find students who are capable of studying at La Salle but who would normally be too poor to be able to access university. In order to get into La Salle’s scholarship program you need a grade point average of 85 and come from a GK community. The university has found that because of its elite nature there have been some instances of discrimination of scholarship students. The university offers mentorship, counselling and careers advice to its scholarship students as well as some idea of what a workplace would be like, so that scholarship students do not face too much of a shock when they do enter the workplace. The other challenge that La Salle has is to make its students more responsive to the poor and to be socially responsible.
6. Ms Alice Palmer – MALPA Project Ms Palmer has a lot of experience working with and engaging high school and university students in issues of social justice, advocacy and engagement with communities. She believes that there is an enormous disconnect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians especially in their understanding of each other. This, of course is the result of historical, social and political factors in Australia. But this misunderstanding is incredibly harmful and results in active and passive racism and reverse racism.
Ms Palmer had just returned from Alice Springs where there is appalling poverty. She said: “You feel that hope starts to disappear and for a lot of the people out there it disappears because it feels as though the majority of your fellow citizens don’t even care about the fact that almost everyone you know suffers from chronic disease. You are surrounded by violence and death and poverty and unfulfilled needs”.
She said engaging with communities shows people that something needs to be done and can be done. Engaging mainstream communities with marginalised and disadvantaged communities and sharing knowledge between the two provides a sense of hope for the communities, and a feeling that they are not so isolated. It is not a one-way learning experience.
Whilst living in Ghana, Palmer was constantly reminded that you cannot change the world in a short period of time. What you will be able to do is touch the lives of the people in the community you live in, to learn from them, share their experiences and advocate for them in the broader community. What this did, she said, was empower people in impoverished communities to feel supported, not just physically but emotionally, “I think emotional support is huge, (it) plays a huge role in changing the way that people can take risks to change their own futures and take charge of their own destinies”.
Ms Palmer works for the Malpa Project which runs a program called Child Doctors. This program is a long-term, holistic approach to community development similar to the work that Gawad Kalinga undertakes. The Malpa Project works to improve health outcomes for Indigenous communities through empowering primary school children to become health ambassadors for the communities, particularly for their peers and for younger children. The program model was inspired by ones that have been used around the world, but it has been adapted to suit the cultural and social environment in which it is taking place. It involves local men and women, community workers, traditional healers, sharing their knowledge and understanding of culture and well-being, and also includes western doctors who come in and share the western view of health and medicine.
7. Mr William “Smiley” Johnstone, Chairperson, ARL Indigenous Council Mr Johnstone is chair of the Australian Rugby League Indigenous Council, he spoke about the role that sport can play in indigenous education. For the international visitors in the audience, Mr Johnstone explained that there are two major football codes in Australia – Rugby League and Australian Rules. Australian Rules is played in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. Rugby League is played in Queensland and New South Wales.
Indigenous Australians make up 3 percent of the Australian population but they are over-represented in some levels of elite sport in Australia. The Indigenous Rugby League Council of Australia aims to increase the levels of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in all facets of the game with a specific focus on youth and women, support programs, and proposals that build capacity building within communities.
He also spoke about the The Clontarf Foundation which was established in 2000, at the Clontarf Aboriginal College in Perth. The Clontarf Foundation exists to improve the education, discipline, self-esteem, life skills and the employment prospects of Aboriginal men, thereby equipping them to become better leaders and better fathers in their communities. Mr Johnstone pointed out that a lot of Australia’s juvenile justice centres and jails are full of young men because they cannot read and write and they do not fit into society. The only society that these young boys and men know is the one where they end up in jail.
The Clontarf Foundation has grown from a college for 25 boys, to colleges that cater for 2,500 boys in the suburbs of Perth, remote communities in the Northern Territory and in the northern part of Western Australia.
Johnstone said that this program is the best that he has seen in his life, because it is a program that actually works. The kids that are in the program love sport. They don’t love school, but they attend school in order to get access to sports. He said that it was one of the few programs in the whole of Aboriginal Australia where you could actually measure the 80-90 percent school attendance rate that resulted. He said if you are going to school and you are engaged you have half a chance of an education, if you are not going to school and you are not engaged, you are out the back smoking or you are ready to go to jail.
In comparison to the Philippines, Johnstone said, the numbers that are spoken about maybe considered miniscule, but in terms of Aboriginal numbers the effects are immense. Around 70 percent of the Australian Aboriginal population is under the age of 21. “They are our next leaders, they are our next mothers, the next fathers, and if we are not participating in society because of the way that society has treated us we are going to be repeating the same old mistakes”.
At the Clontarf Academy in Broome in 2006, there were 14 students in Year 8 with an average attendance rate of 64 percent; Year 9, had 12 boys enrolled with a 58 percent attendance rate; Year 10, 13 boys enrolled with a 45 percent attendance rate; Year 11, seven boys enrolled with an attendance rate of 54 percent; one student enrolled in Year 12 with an attendance rate of 53 percent, totalling 47 boys at the school in 2006 with an average attendance rate of 55 percent. Five years later the enrolment numbers had increased dramatically and from having one student in Year 12 in 2006, they had 16 with an average attendance rate of 77 percent.
He said that the young people who were engaged in these programs had often had some experience of the juvenile justice system, but as a result of this program had gone on to be shearers, and miners, had bought their own homes and now their own children were becoming the duxes of their schools.
He said the reason that the program works is because it is hard work. The people that work with the young kids are integrated into the school system – some of the adults are ex-school teachers, ex-principles, ex-AFL players, counsellors, people from a variety of backgrounds. School attendance is monitored, students get rewards for attending school, they are picked up in the morning, given breakfast, do some Aussie Rules training. The mentors are with them 40 weeks a year, around 70 hours a week. He said that kids will come to school if you make it an attractive and safe place. He said that people have to remember that a lot of their parents were taken away by the government and have bad memories of school. He asked why if you were a parent and you had a bad memory of school, would you insist that your children attended?
The interest in sport is so high that some of the students will travel 1,400-1,500km one way on a dirt road from Alice Springs to Broome to play one another. Last year over 970 games of AFL were played between the 45 academies.
Mr Johnstone is hoping to run these programs in western New South Wales – the area that he is originally from. He said Aboriginal men run the jail at Wellington and Bathurst, they have a good foothold at Long Bay in Sydney and this is something that has to stop. He believes that the only way that can be done is through education. Mr Johnstone said, “We are not trying to put black fellas on the moon, we just want them to go to school to get an education”.