Danish School Dropout Improves Education in the Philippines

“Any place I hang my hat is my home,” says Willy Stellander from Frederikssund. In 2000 he came to the Philippines on holyday. Here he met his wife Jocelyn and decided to stay. Since he came he has been concerned about the living standard and especially the conditions of the schools in the Philippines.

“I have lived and traveled in many third world countries. Seeing all this miseries here and at the same time experiencing a culture where I was so well received made me think that overflow we have in Denmark and Scandinavia could come of good use out here, were it is difficult to obtain just a minimum of education,” he explains.
    In 2003 Willy Stellander therefore set up the organisation EDUCARE-Philippines. But in 2006 Hans Jørgen Nielsen who was working for Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke (Danish Association for international Co-operation came to live in the Philippines. Together they set up the NGO AFRO-ASIA EDUCARE, which domicile is the municipality of  Aabenraa.
    The Organisation aims to improve the quality of education in Tanzania and the Philippines. “We had send Hans Jørgen pictures of the conditions of Puerto Galera National High School, and just form looking at the pictures he felt that this is a place where he could really do something says Jocelyn G. Manalo, who is president of Parents Teachers Community Association at Puerto Galera national High School.
    According to her the more rural area of the Philippines, like Puerto Galera are neglected by the government.
“Our country is scattered in islands, and the money hardly ever reach out here. Maybe the schools in Manila are better but here the standard is very low. There are not enough books and not enough classrooms. Most children around here have never seen a computer,” she explains.
    Through Danish donors such as Horsens Handelsskole, AFRO-ASIA EDUCARE has already finished delivering equipment to Puerto Galerea National High school. “We are now looking for sponsors to improve the toilet system and the water condition,” says Willy Stellander. “We are also trying to find sponsors who might be willing to give scholarship for the students further education.”
    The next in line to be helped are the 19 elementary schools in the district. “We are going to screen all the schools to find out where the need is greatest. Some of them don’t have any furniture or books or anything”
    But these conditions will soon be improved. In January 2008 AFRO-ASIA EDUCARE has arranged that two containers will arrive from Denmark filled with materials for the schools.  “There are computers, monitors, printer, overhead projectors, chairs tables, books sports equipment,” says Willy.

A Better Chance
The next plan for AfroAsia is to set up school health clinics and improve the conditions of the science laboratories. “Maybe we can help the next town as well after we have finished Puerto Galera,” says Jocelyn.
    “One of our dreams are to build our own school here under a more moderns concepts with a more Danish standards, and where there is less strict relation between student and teacher than what is common here in the Philippines,” says Willy. He is also hoping that the organisation will be able to start an exchange program with Aabenraa high school.
     “Its nice to be able to give something back for all I have received in life,” says Willy Stellander. And the fact that he has chosen to give something back by improving the standard of education is not a coincidence. “I was kicked out of school when I was 13 so I didn’t get a chance to get a good education. Maybe we can help these people to get a better chance in life” he finishes.

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