Philippines recce

19 Feb 2024

Before every Splash Project comes a recce

Pete Simmons, 55, from Newton Abbot, spent 24 years in the Royal Artillery before joining Splash Projects as a Project Manager in 2019. For several years Pete has trained conservation rangers in Zambia in the fight against the poaching of endangered animals. Here, he shares his experience visiting a site on the Philippines island of Cebu ahead of a Splash Project there next month… 

Before every project, we do a recce of the site. Having matched the charity with our business client, we’ve already discussed their hopes and needs, so the recce is a chance for us to gain more insight about the site itself and see how the project will impact them firsthand. 

Next month we have a one-day project with 30 professionals for the City Gates Academy, a Christian charity which provides educational programmes to children in economically deprived communities across the Philippines. 

The project is at a community centre near the town of Danoa which is run by local couple, Helbert and Carol, who provide meals for children who are either orphans, or whose parents are drug addicts or alcoholics and can’t afford to feed them.  

The meals consist of either rice or porridge and there is anywhere between 30 and 60 children at each, daily, sitting. 

The poverty was heart wrenching. All our projects benefit in-need communities, but when you have so many people relying on a local church for a bowl of rice, this is another level of poverty and something I’ve not witnessed, even in Africa. 

It was a very humbling experience. Helbert and Carol are paid £70 a month. It costs £5 to feed 30 children in a sitting which they’ll have a whip around for among the congregation at the Sunday church service, but if there isn’t enough, they’ll pay for the food themselves. 

They also deliver meals to local schools who can’t afford to feed the children. 

My job was to find out what the site was like and where the elements they wanted would go. Surrounding the hall is a lot of space. 

They have four priority areas, all of which we hope to deliver. First and foremost, they would like an outdoor cooking facility; they can’t afford gas, so they cook with wood, barbecue style, and an indoor kitchen/food prep area.  

The kids have no toys at all, so they would also like two play areas, one for children aged six and under, and another area suitable for older children aged up to 15. 

They also need tables, chairs and benches, indoors and outdoors. finally, they would like a planting area so they can grow their own food. 

The other element of the recce was to find out where we can source the timber. There are several lumber yards and I found one not too far away, which is going to supply us with mahogany, because this type of wood can survive termites, which are rife out there! It will arrive as trees and then be cut to size.  

This is a six-to-eight-week process. We’ve managed to secure £8,000 worth of wood for £2,500. 

Due to the humidity and the issue of termites, we’re not able to bury posts in the ground for the foundations, instead, we will need to build concrete blocks or stilts as the base of the builds, which is more laborious. We’ll do this as part of our two-day prep. 

Then there’s the issue of tools. I’ve managed to hire a chop saw but we’ll have to bring out all the other tools needed in our luggage. And all the screws, because you can’t get them there. I brought 15 kilos of screws out with me, and we’ll bring the rest next time. 

I also purchased other items like wheelbarrows and shovels, which we’ll leave for the charity. 

Play equipment is very limited out there, so I left them the cash to source volleyball, badminton and basketball equipment. 

I asked Herbert and Carol, if I could bring anything back, what would they like most? They said toys, because the children literally, have none.  

For me it’s going to be the most humbling and impactful project I’ve ever done with Splash. 

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