Stamps for the Visayans

Stamps for the Visayans is a fundraising project of a niece (that’s me — Australian writer Melinda J. Irvine) and an uncle (that’s my Uncle Richard — who dedicates his time and energy selling off the family stamp collection.)

Together we help a group of kids — who live in a fishing community in the Western Visayan region of the Philippines — go to school.

stamps for the visayans - helping disadvantaged kids go to school

Kids of the Philippine Western Visayas often miss a lot of school due to natural disasters and flooding — I first learned this while living in a fishing village deeply affected by poverty and seasonal typhoons.

In early 2014 I was a just an entry-level volunteer helping out with the cleanup efforts following SuperTyphoon Haiyan (Yolanda), and during this time I met a small boy wandering the local fishing port. 7 year old Jerry was not in school and spent his days begging for food or roaming around the pier. My original goal  was to get him back into school.

stamps for the visayans - all kids have a right to a quality education

But when his father died about a year after I first met him — leaving him orphaned — I decided to stay on in the Philippines and take care of him. Over the next few years (while taking care of Jerry) I came to know and love the other children of his fishing community, and began helping them in school as well.

stamps for the visayans - introducing Jerry and Tita Mel

While all this was happening, my Uncle Richard inherited a significant stamp collection from his brother who sadly died in August 2014. Losing your oldest brother is hard enough, but now Uncle Richard was the owner of a massive stamp collection which filled an entire room.

That’s when Uncle Richard decided the sell all the stamps!

Uncle Richard displays the latest in modern techology of stamp selling.

So here is where I come back to the story. My decision to stay on and take care of Jerry brought with it the challenge of finding enough money for our daily needs as well as process an international adoption. You see because I can only stay here in the Philippines on a tourist visa — I am not allowed to work here or run a business.

Uncle Richard offered (if I would teach him) to sell the stamps on eBay and forward all the proceeds to help me take care of Jerry — as well as run other projects to help the children of his village. When Uncle Richard made this offer I wasn’t working at all and I would never have been able to stay here with Jerry were it not for all those stamps.

Now more than four years later, I have an Australian registered Freelance Writing Business  — which I am able to operate remotely thanks to the internet and other technologies. It is these combined funds (plus a few donations from family and friends) which make our life here possible.

I’ve been able to provide a comfortable life for Jerry and myself, plus help another 20+ kids go to school as well. I am so grateful for the generosity of my uncle Richard — after all most people would just keep the money for themselves.

More about Uncle Richard …

We’ve been selling the stamps for a few years now but there is still plenty more in the collection — if you would like to buy some stamps please visit our eBay store. We also welcome donations to help continue our projects.

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Weekly updates on our humanitarian projects as well as the latest cool listings in the Stamps for the Visayans store.
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4 comments

    1. Hello Cindy. I’m so glad that you messaged me here. I hope you are enjoying the stamps, my Uncle who died collected those stamps his whole life.

      I’d like to say thank you very much, everything you have bought because the money has been used to help the disadvantaged kids here in the Philippines.

      Also if you want to join my mailing list I send out a weekly eZine talking about the projects I’m running here. I’ve included the link below if you want to opt-in.

      https://melirvine.com.au/nextdraft/

      All our love and blessings Cindy.

      Melxx

  1. Hi Mel,

    Your Uncle Richard forwarded me this link – I have read through the main parts of your web site here – and it is – well there are no adequate words – but all very moving…

    I have linked your site to my facebook page and to names of others who may be interested

    Am hoping a nephew ( an avid stamp collector ) of my husband will see the link and be interested.

    I know your Uncle through TAFE at Inverell – he was an obliging art student, coming to my small art class at my home every week ( unless he was playing at a funeral!) The proceeds of that art class went to a person like you who started off helping children from the Pakistan earthquake of 2005 and now works at an SOS village in Islamabad. She wanted to do more than what the meagre facilities provided – so they got to taste pineapple for the first time – and she does lots of other things with them – extending their interest in subjects/reading and art and craft,singing etc – she is a bit of a ‘maverick’ – in all the good sense of the word!

    So wish you all the very very best Mel! Have been gradually reading though your website – you capture everything so well – you are a real earth soul! Think Richard’s family are rather like that!

    Cheers

    Sandy

    1. thanks so much Sandy, really appreciate your acknowledgement and support.

      having people at home supporting and encouraging me means the world.

      thanks

      mel

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