Helping Hand: Partner Tia Razon extends JDVSF’s reach

tia_razon
The JDVSF extends a heartfelt thank you to our new friend and partner Tia Razon, pictured above with Lizelle Salvador [left] and her sister Diana[right]. Tia is the founder of the Corazon Roxas Foundation (www.corazonroxas.org). Here, Tia shares her inspiration for collaborating with our foundation.

Tia, please describe your foundation’s mission.
TR: My family moved from the US to the Philippines when I was in grade school. I remember doing volunteer work in an orphanage in one of the poorest sections of Manila. It was a painful look into how desperate the situation is for families living in poverty. For years after, I wondered what would become of these children. Many had no family, no resources, and no programs/activities to do each day.

Our mother Corazon Roxas (the namesake of the organization) always instilled in us that we had responsibilities not only to ourselves but to others. When returning to the US, I saw all the abundance and blessings we were given. I realized that by leveraging the dollar, we could make a significant difference in helping change the lives of others in underdeveloped countries. My family decided to formalize our philanthropic work by setting up this foundation.

Please describe why you chose to collaborate with the JDVSF.
TR: On one of our trips to Manila, I heard of the work JDVSF was doing through a volunteer. I reached out to founder Lizelle Salvador and learned that we had the same mission and faced the same challenges. JDVSF has a proven track record, dedicated leaders and measured results. Our first few exchanges were thrilling as we looked at areas in which we could partner to have a bigger impact on the communities we served. From our first meetings it was clear that there was synergy in our collaboration.

Why did you decide to donate backpacks, books, supplies and plush toys to the kids?
TR: We learned that children’s reading books had a huge impact on the kids. We heard stories of children sneaking the donated books under their beds at night to read by flashlight. It was rewarding to see these books that were once destined for landfill enrich lives and create a love of learning. The impact was not something we anticipated. To date, we have shipped over 35 tons to over 40 schools in 17 provinces.

As our organization grew, the need for backpacks and school supplies became evident as we spoke to our partners. Poor families who live on USD 2/day were unable to provide the basics for their children each school year. We hope to grow our backpack program to reach 500 children a year.

What has your organization learned over the past years?
TR: Our focus was initially on education, with the belief that education alone would improve the status and lives of these children as they grew to be valued members of society. One of our major learnings, and the sad truth, is that children who are hungry or sick cannot learn or go to school. We had to rethink that the most basic needs had to be met first.

There were many agencies that were sponsoring food programs, so we found a partner who was doing amazing work in one of the remote islands in providing basic healthcare and food programs to a village of 33,000 people. This organization had been providing medical services to this community for years, and we liked the sustainability aspect of what they were doing. We helped support their basic nutrition and health programs, and expanded to assist their efforts for urgent cases such as cataract surgery to help a child from going blind or for pregnant mothers who would die from not having a routine C-section. Simple procedures in the US – but this remote part of the world would have no access to this basic level of medical care without significant cost and hardship to get to a metropolitan area.

We expect to continue to evolve as we learn to meet the challenges of people most in need.

What are your hopes for these children?
TR: We hope that by helping provide the basics of life – medical assistance, educational support and programs that encourage learning, these children can lift themselves out of the cycle of poverty and change future generations. That would be a tremendous measure of success.