Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm and M.A.D Travel

This week I have officially started my job working at M.A.D Travel. Basically I am working on marketing and communications for the kids camps that M.A.D Travel offers. I’ve been gathering a lot of content in the form of pictures, people’s stories, and quotes. Most of my work will be done at the GK Enchanted Farm.

To understand my job a better it will be important to understand what GK is and what the Enchanted Farm is. GK stands for Gawad Kalinga which means “to give care” in English. The goal of GK is to end poverty in the Philippines by 2024 and by first restoring dignity among the poor. They help to build communities and teach the people within them the  skills they need to be able to provide for themselves in a better way then before. So far GK has helped over 2,000 communities. The GK Enchanted Farm is the first farm village university in the world. It connects the work of farmers to the village/community while also teaching children entrepreneurship skills at a university level. The students within this school are amazing. They study for two intense years, all the while learning at least one other language, basic business skills, work on the farm, and eventually they all come up with some sort of social enterprise by the time they graduate. Also during this time they transform as people. They start as troublemakers, but then by the end of the program are well respected among their peers. Also within the farm there are many social enterprises that have been operating for years. Bayani brew is one of the first enterprises that started when the local mothers would make hot tea for the community members. Since then it has developed into an iced tea that is sold in many markets. Plush and play, a stuffed toy company, First Harvest, makes peanut butter and spread, Eri Silk, makes scarfs and other accessories, are some other enterprises that can be found on the farm. Each enterprise starting from nothing and building its way up.

silkPhoto: Weaving a scarf at Eri Silk

MAD Travel partners with GK and follows their vision. MAD promotes social tourism throughout the Philippines. They offer tours that show people the beautiful nature of the country while also meeting the wonderful people that live here. Their most popular tour is called Tribes and Treks. This tour goes to Zambales and the tourists meet the indigenous people that live there while also planting trees to help rebuild the rain forest. I will get to go on this tour in a couple weeks! I’m very excited about that.

The first event that I actually worked for with MAD was a 7 year old’s birthday party. The party was Moana themed. This was my first real day on the job. I helped to decorate the party area, and helped out with various random things throughout the day. This was more of a shadowing day than actual work day. The party itself was pretty cool. First the kids went to area of the farm called the bamboo villa. Here they identified plants that are found around the farm and then planted some herbs. After this they feed some goats and chickens. I think they really enjoyed this activity because everyone was rushing to get into the goat pen. Next they ate lunch boodle fight style. A boodle fight is when all the food is in on the table on top of banana leaves and the food is eaten with your hands. There was rice, stew, mangoes, and chicken. After lunch played some games, tried archery, made a plush and play toy, and sang happy birthday. It was a very long and exhausting day. I slept with no problems that night.

20170621_112958Photo: Boodle Fight

Within the same week there was a group of thirty 9 year old kids that came to the farm for 2 days and 1 night. These children came from Manila for a class trip to the farm. This time I was more involved. I helped to set up some activities and led the kids around the farm. The activities were similar to the ones that were at the birthday party. These 2 days were long too. It takes a lot of effort to organize a 2 day event for children. My favorite activity was the ecobrick demonstration. I didn’t know about ecobricks before so I learned all about them. Ecobricks are completely made of plastic. For example you can take a 2 liter coca-cola bottle and completely pack it with clean plastic wrappers, and this creates a brick. Then you can take the bottle and stack them up to make a wall and then put cement over it and you create a sturdy wall. This eliminates plastic waste and helps to create homes. Then if you want to remove the wall years later the bricks will still be there since they are non-biodegradable. I would love to start something like this when I get back to the United States. I think this is a great way to do something with plastic waste and create homes for people that don’t have one. Anyway, back to the camp. The kids were smart. I was surprised how much they knew and the questions they asked. I had to interview some of them for possible marketing content. I asked them questions about climate change, farmers, and the importance of buying stuff made in the Philippines. These videos and pictures could be used for future social media posts.

Once all the kids went home, we debriefed about the event. We talked about things that went well and things we can improve on. I was assigned to come up with an activity that can talk about climate change and a plant identification activity. Along with this I am supposed to come up with some sort of social media plan. I have some ideas, but I think I need to polish them up a bit more. I’m happy to finally have some work to do. The first week was a bit confusing and frustrating in terms of what I was actually doing. Next week I’m supposed to go to Zambales to gain more content (pictures/videos) to use for marketing. I also just got back from Baler, another MAD trip. I’ll be talking about that trip in my next post!

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