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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 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) — while working 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 class.
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 both 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 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.
June 2020 — groceries and capital for families affected by COVID19 lockdown.
May 2020 — 20kg of dried fish for COVID19 lockdown relief to the local barangay.
I don’t have any photos, but we donated cash to families, plus 20kg of dried fish for barangay officals to distribute (along with other foods) to the people who lost their jobs due to COVID19 lockdown.
April 2020 — groceries and capital for families affected by COVID19 lockdown.
I don’t have any photos, but we donated cash to families, plus 15kg of dried fish for barangay officals to distribute (along with other foods) to the people who lost their jobs due to COVID19 lockdown.
March 2020 — getting my mum home to Australia during strict lockdown.
February 2020 — co-ordinating a music program for kids and families.
January 2020 — running meditation classes and donating the money to Typhoon Ursula victims.
December 2019 — co-ordinating fundraising for victims of Typhoon Ursula.
November 2019 — visiting Estancia and the cemetery on All Saints Day.
September/October 2019 — helping Rosemarie’s family with the costs of her funeral
August 2019 — buying longsleeved shirts, long pants, and mosquito repellant to protect our kids from Dengue.
July 2019 — giving Ryan the money to purchase a sidecar for his tricycle. Now he has a full-time income for his family.
June 2019 — getting our sponsored kids back to school
May 2019 — buying school supplies for all the kids ready for class.
April 2019 — attending graduation and giving achievement gifts for attendance.
March 2019 — graduation expenses for Jerry