34 Zamboanga kids go to school thanks to Facebook

Posted at 06/19/11 7:20 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Thirty-four poor Christian and Muslim kids in Zamboanga City are now enrolled in school--thanks to Facebook and concerned netizens.

Aside from these kids, thousands more will be able to read books, use free computers and study in a private library.

Kris Library Scholar Sitti Marra Azib (standing), a 2nd year student at the Manicahan High School, teaches a friend computer basics at the Kristiyano-Islam Peace Library.

All these were made possible when Armand Dean Nocum, a former journalist and founder of the Kristiyano-Islam Peace Library (Kris), a non-government literacy advocacy group, made known his advocacy on the Internet through his Facebook page and the website of Kris Library [http://www.krislibrary.com] over a year ago.

As a result, friends and relatives from the US, Ireland, Canada, Hawaii and all over the country poured in $1,500 in donations.

The fund helped complete the Kris Peace Library serving 10 far-flung barangays and sitios in Zamboanga City since 2008.

It also helped build 3 restrooms and a computer and livelihood room in the library.

“It’s ironical that what Mark Elliot Zuckerberg intended to be a dating site has turned into a socially beneficial engine now powering the education of very poor children who would have dropped out of school had their sad plight not be known to kind-hearted individuals in Manila and far corners of the world – courtesy of Facebook and the Internet,” said Nocum.

“I realized the Internet has done more good than harm to our advocacy to bring education to poor kids in Mindanao. Recently, a donor I met through Facebook a donated P50,000 to enable us to put to school our first 5 college scholars and 29 high school and elementary school students in Zamboanga City," Nocum added.

According to Nocum, the weekly blow-by-blow photos of the construction work, the pictures of kids and their scanned writings of their appeal for help, and even photos of the kids as graduates with honors convinced donors that the group meant well.

Kris Library scholars Joan Pangan (left) and Kathleen Resola of Manicahan, Zamboanga City graduated with top honors, thanks to the help of netizens.

“Most of our donors gave books, chocolates, toys, printers and used computers for free use by the students because through the Internet, they believe they have already gotten high degree of closeness with our scholars,” said Nocum.

The Kris Library has expanded to Quezon City, thanks to the growing support of netizens.

It also committed to establish Kris Peace Libraries, or to donate books to victims of Typhoon Ondoy and fire victims in Montalban, the kids in Layag-Layag, Zamboanga City who swim to get to school, and poor kids in Tungawan, Zamboanga del Sur served by the Claretian Missionary Order.

“Amid all the computer hacking, robbery and other crimes done through the World Wide Web, there is love and caring in Facebook and in the Net,” added Nocum.