Sending Kids to Camp!
What's your favourite memory from your first childhood camp? For me, it was learning how to make damper on a campfire. Aussie as!
Well, our team in the Philippines has just helped to create some incredible memories for some local kids who are from conflict areas... They went on their first camp in July 2018, and it was a huge success! With 90 sponsored children, 20 local leaders, three days of fun, and $4000 raised, the camp happened 20-22 July this year. It couldn’t have happened with the help of our amazing Freedom Project sponsors.
WHAT'S HAPPENING IN MINDANAO?
It's a local region in the Philippines, with conflict and displaced families, where many of our campers came from. Plagued by disasters both natural and human induced, different ethnic factions have retaliated, leaving many families prone to violence and hostility from neighbouring groups.
Armed encounters are becoming conventional. There are thousands of families uprooted and displaced, and it is now the poorest region in the country.
Heavy fighting between military forces have resulted in up to and over 62,000 individuals left without a home, with hundreds of families and children, in dire need of support.
Armed Forces Philippines and the US State Department revealed that a large number of the combatants are children, whether by force or by upbringing.
What have we done to change this?
Over just a short weekend, we were able to have a lifelong impact on many of the campers.
The camp aimed to guide children from a potential life of danger and violence towards an understanding of other cultures, building a movement towards peace and respect in their home and community. The children were looked after by 20 local, mostly young adult leaders, who guided them towards appreciation of other cultures, peace-building, and non-violent conflict resolution.
One particular discussion allowed participants to acknowledge their own social wounds that maintain the gap among the different ethnic groups, and to express their own experiences of hurt and fears as victims.
Mutual forgiveness and acceptance formed a bridges across gaps of conflict and misfortune, proving hope for a brighter future.
Through team building tasks, craft, role play, and other fun activities, we taught, and facilitated the discussion around the issues that were prominent in their lives - all in a safe, fun, supportive space!
They have become peace makers, faith builders, and now friends and advocates for the next generation, their lives changed, with an immeasurable impact on their family and community. We saw kids from different tribes, traditional enemies, come together to talk, laugh, play, eat... This is cultural breakthrough and a sign of healing past hurts through the offer and acceptance of mutual forgiveness.
The Philippines field team and all the camp leaders are thrilled with how well the camp went, and we can't wait to continue these camps in the future and see the long term impact on these kids and families for months and years to come!
One of the campers expressed their reflections on their time:
"Whatever your ethnicity is as long as are united, love each other, respect each other then we can come together because we are one."
Another child said:
"We must accept, unite and respect each other. Without unity and respect for each other, how can we attain peace?"
If you would like to see more, check out this video of the leaders training session that was conducted a couple of weeks prior. The photos below capture some of the kids and the teaching session on camp. Including a very special thank you from the girls who are holding up the cards that you signed which we posted over the the team!
A few snapshots from our field team on camp.
What can I do to Help?
Every $40 donated sponsored one child to go on camp, and you have seen what a great impact this had on their lives.
Donate now to help us continue our life-changing work. $40 every month can provide ongoing schooling support for children like these! You can help change lives and bring peace to kids in communities like these!
You can donate here and make a once-off donation or sign up to become a monthly Freedom Partner to help us end slavery and exploitation one life at a time.
The Freedom Project works in vulnerable communities with a focus on peace-building, community education, and income-generation projects. Our vision is to help keep children out of the army and in school.
This blog was written by Anna, a work experience student volunteering with The Freedom Project in 2018.