Filipino nurse in Ireland raises funds to help students acquire gadgets for learning

Published August 2, 2020, 11:42 AM

by Joseph Pedrajas

A Filipino nurse working abroad is helping scores of students in the Philippines to acquire gadgets for the upcoming school year’s blended learning system by giving tablets generated from his online fundraising drive.

Aldrin Licayan and the beneficiaries of his tablet giveaway generated from his online fundraising drive

Aldrin Licayan, a 27-year-old staff nurse at a government-run hospital in Donegal, Ireland, said he started his campaign after finding out on social media that many school children in the country, particularly those living in the province, cannot afford to buy gadgets to adapt to a blended learning system.

Blended learning refers to a learning delivery that combines face-to-face with any or a mix of online distancing learning, modular distance learning and TV/Radio-based instruction. It will be implemented by the education department in the upcoming school year to limit face-to-face learning as the country deals with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“There are a lot of Filipinos that are going to miss out the online classes or distanced learning. The problem here is not the fact that they’re going (to) do the online learning, but these children could not even have three meals a day, [so] what more a tablet?” Licayan said in a Youtube video he posted.

Licayan said he knew the struggle of being destitute to support one’s education.  Licayan said he experienced “asking” from others at one point in his life.

“Tapos pumasok sa utak ko yung kwento ko noong bata ako. I walked few miles to go to my relatives’ house to ask for some allowance. Hindi ako binibigyan ng mga luho, nakapagtapos ako, oo, pero may mga times kasi sa buhay ko na nagmamakaawa ako sa tita ko, lola ko na bigyan ako ng ganito (I remember when I was a kid. I used to walk few miles to go to my relatives’ house to ask for allowance. I was not given more than what I needed. Yes, I was able to graduate, but there were times that I begged my grandmother and aunt to give me something I wanted). And I know the feeling of asking, not being given for school,” said Licayan, who grew up with his grandmother after his mother died when he was 10. His parents are separated.

So when he heard stories about children who could not afford gadgets, this “struck” a familiar cord and Licayan realized he “had to do something.”

“So I created a GoFundMe project, it’s a fundraising campaign for these people,” he told Manila Bulletin in an interview.

Licayan launches the “Distance Learning Tablets for Filipino Youth” campaign on GoFundMe website, where he already generated around 1,000 euros for the purchase of gadgets for the Filipino students.

After launching the “Distance Learning Tablets for Filipino Youth” campaign on GoFundMe website on June 8, Licayan already accumulated 932 euros equivalent to some P54,000 as we spoke.  

Aside from this, he also received pledges from several individuals and cash transfers to his bank account.

Because of this, he has already distributed 20 10-inch learning tablets for the first wave of his campaign after generating P70,000.

The specs (specifications) of the learning device met the standard set by the Department of Education, he said.

The funds, Licayan said, were mostly from friends, fellow overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and even foreign nationals who learned about his campaign.

There was this 14-year-old who just celebrated his birthday who donated P12,000, including the P6,000 given by his mother, for the fundraising drive.

Most of the beneficiaries were aged 10 to 19 were from Quezon, Cebu, South Cotabato and Davao del Sur provinces.

“Yung priority namin, yung sobrang mahihirap talaga (Our priority are the poorest of the poor). I received more than 30 to 40 requests eh, so naggawa ako ng (So I made a) core group and they helped me to sort people,” he said.

Licayan also sought the assistance of Julliard Cruz from an e-commerce platform who helped him with his logistical concerns. These people, he said, only proves that the “Bayanihan (unity and compassion)” spirit prevails among Filipinos.

“Marami na ring mga pledges. Makaka-six na ako, makakakuha na ako ng six tablets para doon sa second wave [of distribution] (I receive a lot of pledges. I will be getting at least six tablets for the second wave of distribution),” he shared.

After working for 12 hours as a health care professional, Licayan spends his free time and rest days at an online Filipino community platform, where he livestreams to promote his campaign and raise more funds.

Through the help of his friends, he now has already generated from the said online platform more than P10,000, which he will use to buy gadgets for the second wave of distribution.

In the videos which Licayan posted on his social media accounts, the students expressed their gratitude to him and the sponsors for fulfilling their dream and answering their prayers to have a tablet to give them a fighting chance in meeting the new challenges of blended learning for the upcoming school year amid the pandemic.

Licayan said he will continue his campaign for as long as he can. He wants to expand his campaign to include giving out alcohol and face masks to teachers after he received several requests.

“I will do it hanggat kaya ko. Kasi, nawalan ako ng purpose noong namatay lola ko and nawala yung parang inspiration ko (I will do it for as long as I can because I felt I lost my purpose and inspiration after my grandmother died). I always want her to be proud of me because she would always tell me, be the blessing to other people,” he ended.