Benguet Society of B.C., Vancouver Mountainview Rotary Club partner in pandemic response

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  • Benguet is a landlocked province and part of the Cordillera Mountain ranges of the northern Philippines. Consisting of 13 municipalities, it is home to three (3) ethnoliguistic indigenous tribes namely the Ibalois, the Kankanaey and the Kalanguyas. It is home to about half a million population with the exemption of the City of Baguio which is administered separately being a chartered city.

    British Columbians who ascribe to affiliation to the province of Benguet by birth, blood or affinity have banded together under a duly registered organization named the Benguet Society of British Columbia (BSBC). Bruce Ganase sits as the current president.

    Part of their mission and vision is supporting sustainable development needs in Benguet province through its own resources as well as broad partnerships.

    The BSBC in early 2020 response to the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and call for help from back home took on a collaborative project was aptly named the “Drumvatory Project”.

    The WHO had identified early on that handwashing was one of the most effective way to break the cycle of viral infection, the BSBC collaborated with the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) Benguet Chapter and the Department of Education (DE), Benguet Province to provide hand washing stations.

    With students initially expected to be back to school September 2020, the BSBC initiated fund raising activities. A loose goal was identified to bring in five (5) was stations or drumvatories per school. If conservatively we aim for five (5) schools per municipality (13), potentially the aim was for 325 drumvatories.

    In the project implementation, the BSBC was challenged further in being able to run fundraisers amidst the ongoing pandemic. The worldwide web was sought, and online concerts were held with volunteer performers joining in from around the world.

    With the school start as a challenge, tranches of the donations was sent in so that the fabrication of these wash stations can be started. Local fabricators were also sought to support the local industry. It was also decided that instead of actual drums upon which the initial project was conceptualized, actual sinks made of stainless steel was identified as more sustainable and long lasting as it will not rust.

    It has become apparent too that the organization needed to reach out to other sources of funds. Thus, apart from the individual donors, a call out to organizations and corporate donors was sought.

    Through the help of the United Filipino Canadian Association of British Columbia (UFCABC), the Rotary Club Vancouver Mountain View through the President Dr. Gloria Samosa and Treasurer Bert Parungao was sought and the project presented for funding. The RCVM initial commitment of six (6) wash stations was also augmented by its individual members and organizations. The tranches of fabrication also provided for immediate distribution to the schools via the DE. Also a deal was made for the local parent organizations to secure the pipes to the classrooms.

    September 2020 came and went, and with the schools unable to re-open, the BSBC was sought once again to re-focus its fundraiser temporarily to seek funding to provide for the provision of copies of the modules to students. Thus, together with the wash stations, photocopy papers were also distributed.

    By the end of 2020, over 70 wash stations were distributed in the province. A far cry to the 300+ goal for the province.

    Also in 2020, the BSBC banded to put together 10 boxes of goods bound for victims of flooding in Cagayan Valley. Donations were channeled to Zonta Club. The opening of classes for 2021 is up and coming, although once again treatened by the looming delta strain of COVID-19, the BSBC continues its quest.

    Thank you to Rotary Club of Vancouver Mountain View for the second tranche donation! Another commitment for 6 wash stations were handed over to the BSBC by the RCVM(Cliff Belgica).

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