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Foundation donated 300 boats to help schoolchildren go to school in 2013

MORE than 300 boats were donated by Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation Inc. (YBHFI) to its adopted communities in different parts of the country last year, Jay Jaboneta, the foundation’s vice president and co-founder told the BusinessMirror.

For the year 2013, the foundation gave a total of 323 boats to a number of communities whose children’s route to school was impeded by water, he said. In the last three years, YBHFI donated a total of 501 boats of different types to its 25 adopted communities across the country.

The boats, which are uniformly painted yellow, have been useful not only in transporting kids who would have to swim their way to school without the bancas, but also serve as additional support to the livelihood of the school kids’ family.

“Our estimate is that close to 2,000 children benefit from the boats that we provide to our adopted communities,” Jaboneta said.  “Parents are also benefiting from the boats since they use these for livelihood when not in use to ferry their children to school.”

Of the 323 yellow boats donated by YBHFI last year, seven are propelled by engine, he said. Each medium-sized motorized boat is capable of transporting five to 10 school kids while each big boat driven by engine can carry 30 to 50.

Each nonmotorized boat is capable of ferrying three to five school kids, Jaboneta said.

The foundation repairs old and worn-out boats, but usually replaces the old bancas with new ones, instead of repairing them.

“We do repair but mostly issue new ones,” he said.

The adopted communities get their school kids to the other shore across different bodies of water and situations to have them catch their classes.

“The challenges vary from the open seas to mangrove trees, rivers, lakes, streams and mountains,” Jaboneta said.

Each adopted community has its own distinct situation, he said. Some communities would require their children to swim or trek for three hours to get to school without boats to ferry them.

The foundation-adopted communities include those that ferry schoolchildren to Talon-Talon Elementary School in Zamboanga City; Mababoy Elementary School in Monreal, Masbate; Labney Elementary School in Tarlac; Santa Isabel Elementary School in Dipolog, Zamboanga del Norte; and a community in Basilan.

Another community in Masbate would be adopted by the foundation soon, Jaboneta said.

“The communities in Yolanda-affected areas are not yet fully included as we are still getting that list,” the foundation vice president said.

The foundation is currently working with the Department of Education (DepEd) for this mission and connecting with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in identifying communities in need of yellow boats to send their children to school.

“We now work closely with the DepEd,” Jaboneta said. “Then we coordinate with local NGOs, People Power Volunteers for Reform  and other partners to do actual surveying and verification.”

Half of the time, the foundation responds to requests it receives through phone calls, e-mails and the social media, he said.

The YBHFI started as Zamboanga Funds for Little Kids in October 2010 when he and Dr. Anton Lim found out the story of children in Layag-Layag who swim to school in Barangay Talon-Talon, Jaboneta said.

The foundation was also known across the country for a period of time as the Philippine Funds for Little Kids, he said. It was later registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission as Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation Inc.

The three other co-founders are Ofelia Samar-Sy (Bicol), Emmanuel So (Pampanga) and John Michael Dellariarte (Zamboanga).

Jaboneta and his friends were inspired to breathe life to the foundation by the kids in Manila who skip school to go swimming, while children in distant regions have to swim to attend school.

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