Founded by teenagers in 1997 as a way to sway kids away from gangs and violence, the Dynamic Teen Company (DTC) has almost legendary status in the Philippines, setting up makeshift outdoor classrooms in cemeteries, dumps and other slum locations. These “Pushcart Classrooms” are crammed with books, pens, tables, and chairs just like a real classroom.
As part of the Celebration of Service, IBM employees joined these idealistic teens and logged more than 1,200 volunteer hours reaching out to street children in Cavite City, Philippines, many of whom scavenge through dump sites for left-overs and spoiled food. In the process, DTC qualified for an IBM Catalyst Grant of $10,000. The grant will be used to create more and improved pushcarts, teacher training and access to educational tools like the IBM Kidsmart Early Learning Program.
To date, IBM volunteer involvement with Pushcart Classroom has been limited to the Cavite City site, but the DTC is hoping to expand its pushcart education strategy to other impoverished communities throughout the Philippines.
Wherever they set up their temporary classrooms, the IBMers found eager little students.
“The kids are very sweet,” says Edda May A De Dios, HR professional who spearheaded the project as part of an IBM Club initiative. “They appreciate the little things that you do for them. The thought that you have visited them in Cavite to teach them - to give for them - really truly touches their hearts. Most of the students/kids will hug you and thank you, and even tell you to come back for them, as they would love to be your student.”
“The hope behind the Pushcart Classroom is to encourage the students to experience enough education to motivate them to stay in school at least through high school,” Edda says. “Being literate would also help them look for jobs to support their family. IBMers can take part in this small but significant change by volunteering as teachers and helping the Dynamic Team Company sustain this program through an IBM Catalyst Grant.”
IBM volunteers have been learning as well as teaching, notes Michael Ang, IBM account manager and volunteer. Through his experiences with the children, Michael found that "each and every one of us has the capability to serve others, in our own way. It doesn't matter where you come from, what your color is, what your language is, etc. All that you will need are two things: the intention to serve others, and the will to serve others."
Adds Fil Tarinay, Senior Delivery Manager, "I joined the Kariton Klasrum Outreach because it is my way to give back to the community. Participating in this activity relieves the stress I have from work. It is something new, gives a sense of fulfillment, and ultimately, fun and joy! I am amazed how these groups of teens manage this activity every Saturday. I salute and respect them for their dedication and commitment in educating these kids."