Advocating Education In The Philippines

Park Cities Rotarian helps bring computer learning centers to needy children

Bud Naifeh of the Rotary Club of Park Cities couldn’t have known when he started a project to advance computer literacy and education in the Philippines just how vital those skills and resources would be in the time of COVID-19. 

Naifeh has served as a Peace Corps volunteer and with an organization called The Little Children of the Philippines, which gives sponsorships for children to help provide education and basic needs like food. 

Naifeh said Little Children of the Philippines sponsors almost 700 children ranging from elementary to high school age and another 100 or so college students.

He and his wife, Stella, joined the Peace Corps in 2005 and volunteered with them until the beginning of 2008.

“It came to mind that the key to fighting poverty and allowing people to raise themselves up is education and so we’ve been advocating education.”

Bud Naifeh

“My wife…was assigned to Little Children of the Philippines to help them with their career plans and their English skills, and we got so involved with the children that we ended up sponsoring four ourselves,” Naifeh said. “Our oldest just graduated from university in 2017, and the three girls are going to be seniors next year, and they’ll be going to college after.”

The couple also serves on the advisory board of Little Children of the Philippines.

Their project with Rotary put a computer learning center in every public elementary school in the city of Dumaguete in the southern Philippines.

“We started when I was a Peace Corps volunteer in 2006, and then all this talk about how could we help children…to find jobs…it came to mind that the key to fighting poverty and allowing people to raise themselves up is education, and so we’ve been advocating education,” Naifeh said.

He noted that most public school children in that community didn’t see a computer until they were in high school at the time.

In 2010-2012, Naifeh said they were able to work with rural schools with a small grant from Rotary, and then in 2017, the mayor of Dumaguete got in touch about doing the computer literacy project in the city.

He said they raised $107,000, of which $42,000 was provided by Dumaguete, for the project.

He said he sought to have what students learn in textbooks-reinforced in the computer learning centers.

“We specialize in English, math, and science, and we produced software that allows the children studying those subjects in their textbooks to have that information reinforced (during) their day at the computer learning center,” Naifeh said.

“We got everything going and then later, as we got near the end of the project, and we still had a little money, they asked if we would provide them with an additional 18 large screen TVs so they could teach other subjects…we did that, and that was it,” Naifeh said. “It was just wonderful finishing it up, and we were all excited about doing something else or something more, but then the pandemic came, and there wasn’t any communication between any of us except I talked with my Rotary partners in the Philippines.”

He noted that students in the Philippines began school again in June, and the Little Children of the Philippines purchased computers to facilitate remote learning.

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Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at rachel.snyder@peoplenewspapers.com

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