FUGA Island is an island in the municipality of Aparri, Cagayan, which is also part of the Babuyan Archipelago, the second northernmost island group in the Philippines. There, children live isolated from mainland Aparri and therefore, lack access to different needs, among them educational materials.
To help the children of the island community, a group of volunteers from TRails to Empower Kids (TREK) sailed to Fuga Island. TREK is a group that goes to the country’s most remote destinations for eight years already with the mission to reach isolated communities.
The recent outreach was special, as TREK also piloted its “Munting Aklatan,” a project it co-organizes with the United Architects of the Philippines Manila Corinthian Chapter (UAP-MCC).
“It started with an album of mini libraries from all over the world that I reposted on my social networking site with a caption that states my wish to have these libraries all over the country. My friend Omar Palero, who is also president of UAP-MCC expressed support and that is how it all started,” said Kelly Austria, co-founder of TREK.
Munting Aklatans are mini libraries intended for community centers like stores, multi-purpose halls or other places where members of the communities gather. These mini libraries are filled with storybooks, which can be borrowed for free.
“We also intend to replenish these books after a certain period. We promised the recipients that for as long they take care of the libraries, we will keep adding new books,” added Austria.
UAP-MCC took care of designing and building the mini libraries. It also solicited the help of the UAP Student Auxiliary of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila for the painting of the mini-libraries, which made each mini-library unique in designs. The painting session was done at Victoria Court Malate.
“Our dream is to fill every corner of the country with mini libraries,” said Palero.
Six mini libraries were installed in Fuga Island. A mini library went to each of the six sitios of the island and were entrusted to the care of their local officials.
Besides the mini libraries, TREK volunteers also brought the kids of Fuga new backpacks, school supplies, slippers, art kits, hygiene kits, loot bags and toys.
TREK is composed mostly of mountaineers who decided to add a deeper dimension to their hobby. It has already conducted 21 outreach programs plus four relief operations, of which it has already served 37 schools, with around 5,000 students.