Newsletter Bethany. 2nd Quarter April-June 2008.
My recent visit to Talakag was more of a home coming as opposed to an annual holiday. We arrived at the start of the Talakag annual fiesta which was from Good Friday 21st March till Sunday the 6th April. The Talakag Fiesta normally means two weeks of revelry for the entire town and its visitors and once again they were not disappointed.
Also at that time of the year the local’s schools break up for their summer holidays and graduation ceremonies are a daily occurrence. I went to the graduation ceremony at Bethany which was well attended. The local children who attend the school are by far the majority as there are not so many children of school age at Bethany. I would say the number of Bethany children of school age is around 18 or so. Following the graduation my wife Marilou andI were invited to take lunch with the school staff and that gave us the opportunity to hand over officially a donation to Bethany of 86,000. Pesos. This money was donated by our friends and colleagues in the UK and it was very well received as you can imagine. Money is scarce at the moment and Bethany like any other organisation is dependant on the generosity of its supporters. Another subscriber to the Bethany funds has been Mr Michael Read from Australia who not only made a substantial donation but also spent time at Bethany both manually working as well as giving advice on building maintenance and care. Another valuable contributor on an ongoing basis is Mr Keith Hooper who runs The H.E.L.P. Foundation and is also a neighbour of mine when we are in residence in Talakag. Keith does a lot of valuable work in the Philippines not only for Bethany but for other worthy causes around the islands. We both serve on the board of Bethany and I can testify how earnestly Keith works to raise awareness as well as valuable funding for Bethany. Of course there are many more people who help with raising funds for Bethany and I would not wish to forget them or their efforts well done to all of them and long may they continue.
Whilst in Talakag we visited Bethany on several occasions and took some presents to the children who were very grateful. I just love to see a happy child and not one who is being forced to look happy but genuine happiness. The effort that is put into caring for the children by the House Parents and helpers is magnificent without whose loving care Bethany would not prosper.
Bearing in mind that next month 4th July is the second anniversary of the passing of Ms (Mom) Lynip we will all remember to observe a moment of silence to celebrate the life of a wonderful lady. How time has flown as Gerwin has recently reminded us, it seems that only yesterday she was still with us all. Looking ahead as she would want us to do for the benefit of not only the present Bethany children but also future children we must plan to be self generating in funds and not justbe relying on individual people’s charity.
Keith Hopper and I discussed this issue to some extent when we met up this year and he was kind enough to take me to a rubber plantation that he owns in order to demonstrate how sustainable funding could be raised for Bethany. Bethany owns substantial farming land which could be better used in order to raise ongoing funding on a month by month basis. For example each hectare that was planted with rubber trees would yield at today’s prices between 4,500 and 6,000 pesos per month. The initial cost of preparing the land and buying the seedlings as well as caring for them is approximately 35,000 pesos ($814.00) or (£407.00) or (€523.00). When the trees have matured to the latex producing stage approximately 6 years depending on species of seedlings etc, they effectively become self financing in so much that the harvest pays for the labour and the rest is profit or income for Bethany.
As you will have no doubt gathered every day that we spend discussing this proposition is a day lost in tree growth which means a day less in obtaining an income. This proposed plan would provide income for Bethany on commencement of harvesting for between 25 to 30 years before the old rubber trees are replaced with new ones. Pineapple plants can be grown alongside the seedlings whichwould give an income whilst awaiting the rubber harvest. This type of sustainable harvest would lessen the dependence on spontaneous donations and allow better budgeting for the upkeep of Bethany and therefore provide better security for the future.
The approximate land available is 20 hectares so we would need the equivalent of 700,000 peso’s in order to fully develop all the available land. The annual yield from the rubber in pesos at today’s rubber price would be 1,080,000 to 1,440,000pesos per annum. If we set the ball in motion we could maybe raise funding to commence this project before the end of this year. We need a target and various members could be responsible for certain aspects of achieving our goal. This is of course only a suggestion but if we don’t start to plan for the future of Bethany now there will be no future at all. I would appreciate your thoughts on this one please everybody.
As most people know Marilou and I plan to retire to Talakag and will arrive there the last week of November so I will be in a good position to help oversee the rubber planting project and more importantly report to the donors of its progress. I think this is very important as people need to know what is happening to their contributions and how Bethany is faring with regular updates from the Board of Trustees and the Administration, I aim to provide this information.
Also when in Talakag Rose and Greg Longcob took us to visit a beach property belonging to Bethany located in Cagayan de Oro. Although the buildings are in a dilapidated state the ground area is very big with lots of potential to make an income and once again have a place so that the children can enjoy the seaside when on holiday as some former Bethany children are sure to remember. Any thing that can generate a regular income is what we must aim for as it brings us self sufficiency. Its just a great pity Bethany has not been doing this in the past but its never too late to start and with your will and help I’m sure we can achieve our goal to ensure Bethany has a sound long term future.
Can you remember Bob Martin who has two blogs www.liveinthephilippines.com and www.mindanao.com who visited Ms Lynip at my request back in early 2006 well Marilou, Rose, Greg and I and Marilous tita visited him and his wife Feyma in Davao. The drive to Davao through Bukidnon and over the border at Buda in to Davao was spectacular especially the climb up to Quezon where pine trees are in abundance and the scenery looks like Austria and Switzerland. We enjoyed the journey and our meeting with Bob and Feyma and our trip to Samal Island. The whole trip was a little break from the routine for Rose and Greg and the opportunity to say thank you for a job well done to them both.
Whilst also in Talakag Mr Hopper and me attended a Board Meeting at Bethany and lots of current issues were discussed most importantly the finances and measures were debated as to how to address them. The May Board Meeting was also the AGM and I await the minutes of that meeting to know the current situation.
I hope you have all enjoyed this update on both my recent visit as well as the goings on at Bethany as well as Talakag. For the future what may be better for the credibility of our News Letter is for each member or supporter to contribute an article of their knowledge or experience or something relevant that others may wish to know or share. Not everyone has to contribute for each issue which will be say quarterly. The other aspect of our News Letter is where is it best posted to obtain maximum exposure. I could in addition to your suggestion post it on my own blog http://journals.aol.co.uk/jcjimc/BethanyChristianHomeforChildrenT/ so that it will obtain even more exposure. I will volunteer my services as editor of the Bethany News Letter if this is OK with you folks so for the last quarter News Letter I will require to receive your contributions by the end of August if that’s in agreement with everyone. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com should you wish to discuss this matter further or offer advice.