Dec. 26 was a busy day at the headquarters of Vice President Leni Robredo and Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City. Since Typhoon “Odette” (international name: Rai) hit, it has served as a venue for relief operations, where people drop off donations and volunteer their time to help those affected by the calamity.
Car after car arrived, some from as far as Bulacan, Tarlac and Laguna, unloading all sorts of relief goods—from food, water and toiletries to clothes, blankets, mats and slippers—as volunteers took inventory, organized the goods, repacked them and loaded them into waiting trucks.
In the afternoon, at the donations receiving area, a mother and daughter caused excitement as their boxes of donations were unpacked. Inside were solar lights made out of plastic bottles—something terribly needed in the areas that were hit by the typhoon that still don’t have access to electricity.
“These are so cool,” volunteers said.
The lights came from Streets to Schools. “It’s a youth-led organization that aims to bridge children and youth in street situations through amplifying the United Nations Global Goals and UN Convention on the rights of the child,” said Qjiel Mariano, the organization’s founder and executive director.
Now a 21-year-old third-year nursing student at University of Santo Tomas, Mariano was just 15 when he founded the organization with friends. The multi-awarded youth leader and Streets to Schools have received local and international recognition for the work that they do.
Streets to Schools has been honored and awarded by the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (Tayo) Awards, United Nations Population Fund Philippines, Education for Sustainable Development Award in Okayama Japan, Youth Service America Everyday Young Hero Awards and Harvard Innovation Challenge in Southeast Asia.
Recently, Mariano was included in the 2021 Inspiration Honor Roll of Points of Light, which was founded by former US President George H.W. Bush.
According to Mariano, the solar lights are from the project Hero of Light 2022 by Sustainable Energy and Enterprise Development for Communities. “Initially, Streets to Schools partnered with Seed4Com for the solar lights kits and modular workshops. A small group of volunteers were trained to assemble the lamps.”
These solar lights, also called Eco-Tabang Solar Lamps, have been given to different communities since 2014. “As we received more monetary donations for the cause, we partnered with the Rotary Club of Manila Premier and Rotaract National University and their engineering student volunteers to assemble the lights,” he said.
Apart from the solar lights, Streets to Schools also donated food packs, clothes and beddings to victims of Typhoon “Odette.”
Streets to Schools is also accepting in-kind donations of gadgets that could be used for distance learning. Mariano said “Streets to Schools is also grateful for monetary donations which will be used to fund current and future projects that support the achievement of quality education for all in our partner communities.”
Mariano believes in the importance of involving the youth in achieving global goals for sustainable development. He wants to create change in the health-care system. He recently won the International Telecommunication Union Generation Connect Pitch Challenge of the United Nations. He will be at the Road to Addis Summit in Ethiopia to present his antihealth misinformation proposal.
His message for everyone? “Vote wisely for leaders we can trust in action.” INQ
Visit facebook.com/StreetstoSchoolsProject. For solar lights: Clarence Gio of Seed4Com, tel. 0961-8824574, [email protected]