April 4-9, 2011

BANTAYAN ISLAND, PHILIPPINES - With the financial assistance from Brother David Burns, Grand Master of the Odd Fellows in Michigan, and Odd Fellows Davis Lodge 169 in California, the Odd Fellows Lodge in Dumaguete was able to help provide one box of food supplies for both Team Negros Oriental and Team Silliman University during the one-week 'Kalinga sa Bayan' nation-building event organized by Gawad Kalinga Foundation. Brother John Carlo Buhia, Louie Sarmiento and Sister Maria Katrina Mercado together with brothers Joseph Ceriales and Jun Martinez of Gawad Kalinga Foundation and several others from the province of Negros Oriental also participated in the event which aims to transform Bantayan Island into a paradise.

The aim of Gawad Kalinga Foundation is to build viable and sustainable communities by people with faith and patriotism, driven by a culture of caring and sharing and are dedicated to eradicate poverty and restore human dignity. Their mission is to work together with the rich, the poor, the privileged, the oppressed, the government, Non-government organizations and corporations in ending poverty for 5 million families by 2024. Numerous national and international corporations and organizations are supporting the cause and many of these groups already sponsored Gawad Kalinga Villages.

"The Filipino principle of 'Bayanihan' is very similar to Odd Fellowship. Both aim to teach a culture of caring and sharing. Someday, maybe we can raise funds to sponsor a GK village and name it GK Odd Fellows Village. What is good about this project is it's not about charity. It is beyond that. It's about empowering people and assuring a viable and sustainable development. It is good to see that a number of our brothers and sisters in the lodge are getting good lessons while helping out through this altruistic partnership", said Brother Louie.

A total of approximately 1700 volunteers representing five countries attended the event. Volunteers spent this one week building homes for the homeless and less fortunate, educating and playing games with the local children, cleaning the sea shores, planting trees, and repainting classrooms. Brother John and Louie, together with 3 other teammates, also represented Team Negros Oriental during the 'Bayani Race' which they received 4,000 Philippine Peso in cash for finishing third place among 20 teams.

"It was indeed a heroic event that is worth the time and effort. We can't wait to participate again next year", said Brother John.

For more information about Gawad Kalinga: http://www.gk1world.com

For more information about the Odd Fellows: http://www.ioof.org