Literacy & Livelihood Program for Inmates in the Philippines
Organized by: Theodora Doromal
EVENT DATE Jan 07, 2016
When I was growing up in the Philippines, I used to visit my father who was then the city's Chief of Police at the city jail. I saw how miserable the living conditions were for the inmates.One cell was filled with inmates who were packed like sardines with hardly any room to stand, much less sit. What I saw then was a real-life example of the economic disparity of the marginalized populations in my hometown.This was also an illustration of the economic disparity between a developing country and an industrialized one. According to the World Bank and the Overseas Economic and National Accounts, the Philippines had a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita income of $2,765.00 in 2013. Compared to the United States’s GDP per capita income of $53,042.00, it is among the lowest in the world.
Two years ago, I visited the city jail after a long absence from the country. The cells I saw were no longer as crowded as the ones I remembered from my childhood. However, the same atmosphere of idleness, helplessness, and hopelessness was present. San Carlos City has been trying to expand their social services programs to the “neediest of the needy” but has been severely hampered by limited resources. Adult basic education classes are offered one day a week for three hours by a part-time instructor. The students don't have books. The only supplies are a broken chalkboard and a limited supply of lined paper, which is rationed out individually by the teacher.
Besides literacy and general education, a critical component of reintegration for inmates also focuses on the ability to make a living. Despite best efforts by the city, the livelihood program is equally sparse. For example, inmates make lanterns during Christmas to sell to the general population. Some are engaged in a cottage industry that involves using a local grass to make handicrafts of household items like fruit trays and placemats. Unfortunately, less than 10% of the inmate population are involved in these livelihood programs.
Starting in January 2016, I am taking three months of professional leave to go to the Philippines and teach in the San Carlos city jail and help develop a more sustainable adult education and livelihood program. I will use my own funds for my airfare, but need help to support the rest of this project. I plan to:
- Raise funds/procure donations to buy equipment/materials for the classes and programs
- Work with the Superintendent of Public Education office, city council members, and education specialist to determine the support and resources needed so that more adult education classes, both for elementary and high school diplomas, can be offered (I have already started in this direction)
- Determine the kinds of livelihood programs (e.g., carpentry, tailoring/dressmaking, and handicrafts) that would work best at the prison and the resources needed
- Work with the Cooperatives and Livelihood Development Office to obtain approval for the livelihood programs
- Utilize my social network and work with city council members and the retired teachers association to establish a sustainable pool of volunteers to teach/tutor the adult education and livelihood classes.
Funds Will Be Used For:
- Educational materials (notebooks, pencils)
- Shipping of books and materials
- Handicraft supplies and equipment (wood for carpentry, sewing machines, etc.
What I Bring:
- Sixteen years of experience teaching adult education in a US state prison
- I speak the local language (Cebuano) and the national language aa(Tagalog/Filipino), giving me the flexibility of teaching the classes in either or both languages.
- I am certified and trained to teach English as a Second Language (ESL), so I can also teach the inmates English, a highly employable skill.
- Familiarity with the region and already established network with appropriate partners, including City Council and retired teachers association.
- Strong family support and commitment
Why I'm Doing This:
I want to provide educational and livelihood opportunities to some of the most marginalized people in our “society” so that they can also improve their lives and their families’. However, when I say “society,” I think beyond my work program, department, division, and local community. I think beyond the borders and waters of the US. With a global perspective, I will come back a more effective teacher with a richer perspective and skills set that I can share not only with my students, but also with my colleagues at Edmonds Community College and at the different educational sites in Corrections.
If you have any questions, please send me a message. I'll also be sending email updates to those who donate, and if you'd like to receive them, please make sure I have your email address. Thank you for checking out my site!