Archive for the ‘Volunteer Program’ Category

A day at the Victor Braun Vocational Training Center

June 14, 2012


On Friday May 4th, I visited the Victor Braun Vocational Training Center which helps people with intellectual disabilities or mentally challenged from age 16 and upwards. Through Rise Above, Camilla V. Braun, is completing her internship at the training center.  Together with another Danish student, Mette, Camilla is helping the students at the training center with learning basic housekeeping, food preparation, cooking, paper, wood crafting, carpentry and gardening. The training center also has its own water refilling station, where the students learn how to refill water and at the same time earn some money.

I was met by smiling students

It is the nuns that go out to the communities and recruit the students. The students attend the training center for maximum 2 years before they move on. The training center is open Monday thought Friday from 08:00 to 15:00. The number of students varies. But usually they are about 12 students. The staff is open to suggestions from the Danish students. When asked what is the biggest challenge Camilla says, “the communication”. The students are not always easy to understand and she does not know the local language Bisaya. However, Camilla and some other Danish students are taking a language course once a week to learn. She says that even though I only understand one word, I can imagine the rest.

Camilla surrounded by a happy bunch

I asked if she knows the background of the students at the center. She says that is actually what her project “student profile” is all about. She is in the process of gathering information about the students such as their strong side and their weaknesses and what the training center has to focus on. The names of siblings and family background are also important for the communication to improve. Her project will be implemented from the next school year, which starts in June.

The Danish students are free to choose which country they wish to complete their internship. I asked Camilla why she chose the Philippines. She answered that she actually wanted to go to Australia. But since none of her friends were going and she was recommended Philippines by other students that had completed their internship here, she decided to come to the Philippines. She had no expectations before coming. “It is better to keep an open mind”, she says.

On her days off, Camilla and her friends go out a lot. They have already explored some of the neighbouring islands. They go shopping and partying. “Just having fun”, says Camilla. She has made a lot of good friends here, who she will miss dearly when she leaves. She says that Filipinos have the same view as her, that everyone is equal.  “I really like the people here. They have big hearts. Even though they have little, they give back”, says Camilla.

When Camilla returns to Denmark she will only have six months left of her 3.5 years of study. But before she flies back to Denmark she will take a vacation in Thailand.  After she has ended her education, she wishes to work with mentally challenged people who are older than the ones she has worked with now. But before she steps into the working life she wants to “travel the world”, she says with a smile. And she definitely wants to return to the Philippines. “Either as a tourist or maybe working”, she says. Camilla has already received a lot of work offers.

Written by: Kathrine Canillo



April 25, 2012

Lone Nilsen, from Denmark, quit her job, sold her apartment to come to the Philippines and work as a volunteer for the Rise Above Foundation.  She learned about the program from her best friend who had completed her internship with one of the Rise Above’s programs about six years ago.

She is now working as a coordinator for about 70 Danish students who will complete their internship with Rise Above. This is a new position which comes with no job description. Every day is different.  That is why working closely with Elisabeth and Flemming is important, who founded Rise Above. “She is a great help to us”, says Elisabeth.

As a coordinator Lone helps with practical matters such as which jeepney (local transportation) to take. Only arriving a month before the students, I ask her if it is not difficult to advice others when she herself is new to Cebu. She says that if she does not know, she asks around. People here are so friendly. If they see that you look lost, they will come up to you and ask if you need help, even if you are a stranger. That would never happen in Denmark.  The students also come to Lone if they have a professional question, if they are experiencing homesickness, or if they simply just want to talk. She gets to meet a lot of people and the job is never boring.

I ask if it is difficult to implement what the students have learned into the Philippine society. Philippines is very different from Denmark, Lone says. There are differences in terms of work, values and economical background. In the Philippines children are taught how to survive at a very early age. It is tough for the students to witness the conditions these children grow up in. However, the students learn early that they have to adapt to the situation and that there will always be cultural barriers.

Lone visits the Danish interns regularly at their respective institutions. The children in the different institutions need a lot of TLC - Tender Loving Care.

In July Lone will end her six months stay here in Philippines. She would like to do the same kind of work in another country. When I asked if she would like to return to Philippines, she answered, “definitely”.

“Philippines is an amazing country because of its people. Here people smile with their eyes. Everybody wants to help each other. If you were to combine Danish society with the Philippines, you would have the perfect country. Its people give so much back. It is never boring. There are always new things to explore”, says Lone.

Written by Kathrine Canillo


February 5, 2012

Volunteer Program

Our Volunteer Program includes everyone who locally or internationally sign up with us to work to help make life better for children as well as adults here in Cebu. The program started about 10 years ago after we got in contact with an international coordinator for interns from Aarhus university in Denmark, and she asked if students could come here as part of their internship period.

Flemming arranges where the interns will work, apartments or lodging houses for them, and he picks all the interns up at the Cebu International Airport and drives them to where they will live for the next 6 months.

It started with 4 teacher students, and yearly this number has increased, to where we in 2011 had more than 200 volunteers; builders, nurses, teachers, dentists and dental personnel, social and political science etc. We feel that this volunteer program is a wonderful way of helping people experience the joy of giving and caring, and the experience they get here is something that changes them and lives with them for the rest of their lives.

Dan (in the photo) and his wife Natalia is a Danish couple who worked as volunteers with children at a rubbish dump for 6 months. They are both IT professionals, but wanted to give of their time to help others before they would start having their own children.

Behavioral Science Students from Denmark

To arrange this program is a lot of work, and Flemming communicates with all these volunteers on a personal basis and answers all their email. To make it easier, standard information letters have been written that covers general information, and this is the first step in informing the volunteers. One document that is aimed for the internship students, is a description of the different institutions that we work closely with, and what kind of target group they focus on. In the iternship program for behavioral science student, we work together with 18 different institutions that cater to physically and mentally handicapped children and youth, criminal youth, abandoned and abused children (which includes street children) as well as daycare centers.

Camilla and Mette chose to work with youth with disabilities. They were warmly welcomed when we brought them to the institution, and it was "love at first sight".

The team from Rise Above who work hands on in this program is Flemming, the director of Rise Above, Marie, who works with the heads of the institutions, our social worker Aida, who works and communicates with the social workers in the institutions, and for the next 6 months, Lone, from Denmark who is a pedagogic professional for 7 years. She will be working as a counselor to the students. She is a friend of a behavioral science student who was part of our program years ago, and contacted us offering her help as a volunteer. With a program this size, help like this is highly appreciated! Thank you Lone!

Sixty-four of this group are behavioral science students from Denmark. Others were nurses and medical students and volunteers. Their internship period ends July 2012. The next internship period starts August 2012, and just as many have signed up for the 2nd batch.

This program is having a big impact in Cebu. Since we at Rise Above Foundation are only 8 adults who work full time with our different programs (see it gives us a feeling of satisfaction to this way be able to provide help in the many needy and often understaffed institutions. At the same time, these young people get an experience in a third world country that opens their eyes to the plight of the poor, and it furnishes them with knowledge about the Asian people and their culture.