“Amúma”- a Visayan term which translates to “taking care…”Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, children from the Muslim community of San Rafael, Maa, Davao City, already struggle with their studies. With no motivation to learn and study, the Amúma Weekend Tutorial Program, with the help of 35 student volunteers, provided free tutorial classes to more than 70 children.  It intends to develop valuable academic and social skills and nurture compassion and empathy. By practicing dialogue and compassion, they started to build mutual respect and understanding relationships despite their differences in backgrounds, cultures, and beliefs. With an emphasis on dialogue and compassion every time they go to the Community, the Amúma Weekend Tutorial Program aimed to cultivate seeds of peace in the volunteers and the students they cater.

With an unexpected shift away from the classrooms caused by the Covid 19 pandemic, traditional forms of learning were interrupted, making it more difficult for the students to do their homework, grasp learning concepts, and motivate them to learn and study.

In response to the needs of the children and the intention of not having children left behind, the Amúma volunteers find new ways and strategies to assist and support them in learning and building their trust despite not having the opportunity to meet them in person. 

The program’s first step was to provide the community with internet connections. With HPW devices from the university, it enabled the Amúma student volunteers to assist the school-aged children from grade 3 to grade 9 via Facebook Messenger.  It allowed them to cope with distance learning methods, increase their motivation to learn, and mold compassionate and empathetic behavior. 

The program not only ends with one community. The volunteers also extended their help with the Sama Dilaut student scholars of the Japanese Anthropologist named Dr. Waka Aoyama. The program pursued this engagement with the partnership of Project Dyesabel. The Amúma volunteers also worked with other organizations such as the Tambayan, Inc., which also gives tutorial programs in Davao City. Other volunteers also brought their spirit of volunteerism to their community. They helped the children of Barangay Waan who needed educational assistance. 

However, for all these efforts, there are still difficulties and many improvements yet to be made. The program collaborates with the volunteers and key partners to improve the situations and actions to deliver their commitments and assistance to the children in their education. 

The volunteers have played their part in advocating the culture of peace and children’s education from the beginning and they are willing to do more and do better. Despite the limitations and challenges they encountered due to the pandemic, the volunteers still strive to keep the children in harmony. Safe and continuously learning to allow them to fulfill their potentials. 

by Ronyth M.Tabingo, Amúma Project Coordinator

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