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.
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.
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.
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!
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 …