Kasem* loves school. He loves seeing his classmates every day, and goes in early to play with them. He loves to draw and practice writing his name. At home, at night, he eagerly shares with his family what he did that day in class. He never needs to be reminded to finish his homework.
Kasem lives in the Philippines with his mother, father and younger sister. His mother does not work. To care for his family, his father collects and sorts garbage at night, selling the recyclable items the following morning.
Without support from Holt International and Kaisahang Buhay Foundation (KBF), Kasem’s family would not be able to send him to school. Kasem attends one of KBF’s six daycare centers, which provide nutrition, medical assistance and learning activities for children in several low-income communities of Metro Manila.
Recently, Holt and KBF made another valuable partner in their mission to keep Kasem – and hundreds more at-risk children – in school. MoneyGram International, Inc., a leading global money transfer company, yesterday announced a $35,000 donation to support Holt’s education programs in the Philippines and Thailand.
Through its annual Global Giving Program, MoneyGram provides grants to support education programs around the world. “As a money transfer provider, we know first-hand how important small sums of money are to individuals working far from home to build a better life for themselves and their families,” says Juan Agualimpia, MoneyGram’s chief marketing officer.
The $35,000 grant to Holt will not only increase the number of children Holt serves in some programs, but also broaden the services many children already receive. In KBF’s daycare centers, MoneyGram funds will support a new school lunch program for the approximate 300 children in their care.
“MoneyGram’s support is complementing and expanding the support we’ve been doing,” says Jennifer Goette, Holt’s director of programs for South and Southeast Asia. “They’re adding value to KBF’s work by deepening and strengthening services.”
In the Philippines, MoneyGram funds will also support high school and college students in KBF’s Independent Living and Educational Assistance Program (ILEA).
“MoneyGram’s support for a full school year for at-risk families ensures many children will continue their education next year,” says Rosario (Cherrie) dela Rosa, executive director of KBF. “We also provide education to students who are entering adulthood and were abandoned at very young age, grown in the institutions/orphanages and entered school late. The education will ensure a better and decent life.”
ILEA helps these young scholars develop independent living skills. While pursuing their education, they live in apartments paid for by Holt and KBF. Until MoneyGram recently offered to help, Holt provided the majority of funding for the ILEA program – including the cost of textbooks, supplies and tuition fees for the scholars. With this grant, MoneyGram eases the burden on Holt and KBF, freeing up funds for other vital services.
In Thailand, the grant will support and expand education programming through the Holt Sahathai Foundation (HSF).
Like KBF in the Philippines, HSF partners with Holt to provide services for vulnerable families and children in Thailand. HSF provides everything from counseling and vocational training to educational sponsorship and income-generating projects. The MoneyGram grant will extend HSF’s reach, enabling many more children to go to school. In particular, the funding will provide school uniforms, textbooks and supplies for children in preschool through the 9th grade.
“For us, this is new to support education of this magnitude in Thailand,” says Goette.
Both HSF and KBF have already assessed family situations and identified children most in need of support – children like Kasem. In total, the $35,000 grant from MoneyGram will support more than 750 children during the 2012-2013 school year.
“We know that helping with tuition and other education expenses is an important key to building a better life,” says Agualimpia of MoneyGram.
This is a point not lost on the families Holt supports. Recently, Kasem’s father told a KBF daycare worker that he will try to earn more money selling recyclables so that his son can continue to go to school. “He believes,” says a KBF staff member, “that education is his son’s assurance of a decent future.” With MoneyGram’s support, Holt and KBF can help him get there.