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Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010

READERS' FUND

Poor kids near Manila get gift of education


Staff writer

First in a series

Schools in the Philippines may be free, but households in dire poverty often can't afford books, pencils and uniforms for their children, and some even keep their kids out to put them to work.

News photo
Worthy cause: Fourth-graders who get financial support from The Japan Times through PAG-ASA Group Japan and the ERDA Foundation pose for a photo at the Sigla ng Buhay Foundation Center in Muntinlupa, the Philippines, in October. PAG-ASA GROUP JAPAN/ERDA FOUNDATION

Yokohama-based PAG-ASA Group Japan, a longtime recipient of The Japan Times Readers' Charity Fund, donates money every year to the Manila-based Educational Research and Development Assistance Foundation, which uses the funds to purchase uniforms, bags, stationery and other school necessities for 40 poor children in Muntinlupa, south of Manila.

The Japan Times raised ¥175,226 and gave it to PAG-ASA Group Japan in June. The newspaper is now soliciting donations from readers to support the group's activities next year.

"Those children live in cardboard box houses in a slum on land nobody claims, so they don't have to pay rent. These places get submerged every time it rains heavily, and that happens several times a year," PAG-ASA representative Masako Sumiya said.

Sumiya visits the Philippines in February or March every year to select 40 children for the ERDA Foundation to support. To individually receive 2,000 pesos, or about ¥3,800, a year, children's parents must demonstrate they are serious about their kids' education and their household monthly income must be less than 1,000 pesos, Sumiya said, noting this accounts for 28 percent of the entire population.

"There are parents who make their children pick up goods from trash bins and go begging," she said.

The 40 children who received the money this year are in grades four, five and six. Those who get the money usually keep getting it until they finish elementary school, unless they move away from Muntinlupa, Sumiya said.

The ERDA Foundation, established in 1974, said in appreciation to donors of The Japan Times Readers' Charity Fund in a written report: "Our children are very much grateful for making their dreams and aspirations in life a reality. They have learned to value education and deal properly with the day-to-day encounters."

Donations can be made via PayPal, bank transfer or check. From your PayPal account send money as a gift to hr@japantimes.co.jp. For bank transfers, send to: Shinbashi branch of Mizuho Bank, "futsu koza" 1393499 (account name is: Japan Times Dokusha no Nanmin Enjo Kikin). Checks should be made out to The Japan Times Readers' Charity Fund, c/o The Japan Times head office (4-5-4 Shibaura, Minato Ward, Tokyo, 108-8071). For inquiries, call (03) 3453-5312.


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