In 2012 and 2013, Chenoah Holdsworth, former Southern Hills Christian College student travelled on the Leavers2Leaders trip for Year 12’s who wanted to see what life was like in the Philippines. She saw the slums and the poverty and decided that one day she would try to make a difference and improve the lives of Filipino women. It might take some time, and the contribution might not be large-scale, but something good would happen.
Three years later, something good has happened as a result of Chenoah's time in the Philippines.
As the National Education Co-ordinator for a global ICT company, Datacom, Chenoah has been able to source more than 30 computers for the children in the Philippines community in Boracay – a small island where SCEA has been concentrating its donations this year. The computers are being used in the local school set up by American missionaries and they enable the students to learn at an accelerated rate and become technically literate at a younger age.
The missionary who set up the school, Dan Beaver, is very grateful for this support from Chenoah and her company Datacom.
"It is absolutely unbelievable the difference that one person can make in the lives of our community. We know that God can provide more than we ask or even imagine, and we are seeing it firsthand in Boracay with this love offering," Dan said.
As well as the computers, Chenoah has enlisted volunteers from all over the world to donate medical supplies for women and she has packed more than 100 bags to be distributed when she travels back to the Philippines next month. It will be her first time going back to the Philippines since those early trips and it will be a very special moment to hand out the gift bags which contain deodorants, bandages, powders and other feminine products, kindly donated over the last six months.
"I used to be pretty materialistic and would spend money too easily on my love of shoes. Seeing kids who have nothing, and literally find excitement in a pile of dirt, broke my heart and helped me realise that there is so much more to life than buying material things for myself," Chenoah said.
Helping out Filipino communities on the island of Boracay has been a focused effort for SCEA’s joint programs this year, with the Trade Training Centre setting out this week for the small island to help build the local school there (Global Academy, Boracay), and Swan’s Director of Service Learning, Ray Hockley, setting up a 2017 trip to Boracay for students to learn more about the indigenous people that inhabit the island.
Paul Beacham leaves shortly as part of the 2016 Leavers2Leaders trip which will see 60 SCEA travellers landing in the Philippines and going out into remote communities as part of the ongoing initiative across four SCEA schools.
Four SCEA schools work together to create the Leavers2Leaders trip, and Boracay is where Paul will travel with Chenoah to distribute the computers and gift bags.
Mr Beacham has travelled to the Philippines more than forty times, and he knows that Chenoah, and other students, were impacted by what they saw on those early trips.
"Everybody feels it as soon as you arrive in the Philippines. The need is there, the people are loving and there is always an opportunity to serve wherever you go. For Chenoah to make such a great contribution after all these years is really a testament to what we have been trying to achieve with Leavers2Leaders from the very start," he said.