BOOKS are instruments of knowledge and learning for both young and old. Even with the advent of internet, which has a goldmine of information, books remain dear to many who love the written word.
In many developing countries, books, particularly textbooks for schoolchildren and young people, are not easily available, which can also be said in the Philippines in many instances.
Thanks to kindhearted people who do their part in making textbooks available in some communities in the country.
One of them is Samantha Bonney, founder of Give A Textbook launched in June 2016 in Melbourne, Australia.
Bonney, a Filipino-Australian whose mother is from San Carlos City, Negros Occidental, said she has been traveling to the Philippines for a number of years to visit extended family and friends.
During these times she has formed strong bonds within the community in her mother’s home province, she said.
Touched by the strength of the local community and the people as well as their generous nature and hospitality, she decided to give back to the community which she loves and holds near to her heart.
With her first project in March 2017, Give A Textbook sent Australian books to the Philippines for distribution to high schools and correctional facilities.
“Being our first project, we chose to focus on the province of Negros Occidental, in particular San Carlos City,” she said.
Aside from being her mother’s hometown, San Carlos has leaders working to meet the social and economic needs of the people, Bonney said.
She also cited that the northern Negros city won awards in environmental protection and sustainability development.
For this project, Give A Textbook sent more than 7,000 books mainly distributed to eight high schools in San Carlos City and Don Salvador Benedicto town as well as three district jails in Bago City, San Carlos City and Escalante City.
Other recipients were government institutions such as Regional Rehabilitation for the Youth in Guimaras Province.
“Aside from these books, we also donated desktop computers for the inmates’ use with the assistance of Consuelo Foundation to install computer-based, e-skills learning modules to each computer,” Bonney said.
Give A Textbook’s second project came in November last year, still in Negros Occidental and beyond, benefiting correctional facilities and institutions in Manila and several remote regions, where communities were provided with more than 8,000 books.
The books were distributed to 13 high schools in the towns of Calatrava and Toboso as well as in Silay City.
Bonney’s group also gave out books to jails that serve Himamaylan City and Binalbagan, Negros Occidental. In Luzon, books were donated to Bureau of Jail and Management Penology of Olongapo City and Bahay Tanglaw of Bulacan.
Give A Textbook was also supported by local government employees in its contribution of novels and computers to correctional facilities.
Judge Amy Alabado Avellano of Regional Trial Court Branch 58, San Carlos City, Negros Occidental linked Bonney and Give a Textbook to the jail facilities and rehabilitation centers for children in conflict with the law.
In only one year, Give A Textbook was able to distribute 15,000 Australian books to 34 schools and other institutions in the Philippines.
These books have impacted the lives of more than 34,000 learners and 1,400 teachers at last count, Bonney said.
She added that this number continues to grow as recipients share books with other learners.
Bonney said Give A Textbook plans to distribute even more books in its third project with distribution throughout the Philippines set this coming May. (SunStar Bacolod)