Ayala Foundation empowers Cagayan de Oro youth through Sari-Saring Aralan

Are there opportunities for growth and development for out-of-school youth and community youth in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Ayala Foundation, through its Sari-Saring Aralan initiative, believes so. A 12-month community project, Sari-Saring Aralan encourages the youth to pursue one of three pathways—education, employment, or entrepreneurship. It originally sought to transform the sari-sari store as a hub for learning activities. Unlike the old image of the sari-sari store is the place where aimless “tambays” hang out, Sari-Saring Aralan transforms the sari-sari store as a venue where out-of-school youths can interact with teachers, mentors, and fellow learners. The first batch of Sari-Saring Aralan participants, all of whom come from Tondo, Manila, “graduated” from the project in 2019.

This year, Ayala Foundation partnered with Mitsubishi Corporation to bring Sari-Saring Aralan to new locations, giving the youth an opportunity to grow, even as communities across the country work to contain the pandemic.

Earlier in December, Ayala Foundation, together with Mitsubishi Corporation, partnered with the local government of Cagayan de Oro City to launch Sari-Sarin Aralan in its latest location. The launch was conducted online, and was attended by Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno; City Councilor Suzette Daba; Ayala Foundation President Ruel Maranan; Ayala Foundation Senior Director for Social Development Joanna Duarte; Dulce Potenciano, executive director of the Local School Board; Keiichi Matsunaga, General Manager of Mitsubishi Corporation; Atsushi Okubo, Corporate Division Head of Mitsubishi Corporation; Rowena Zaballero, Department Manager, Strategy and Coordination of Mitsubishi Corporation; and Zorigt Khongor, Department Manager, Strategy and General Affairs of Mitsubishi Corporation.

Focusing on community youth residing in Barangay Tablon, Cagayan de Oro City, Sari-Saring Aralan CdeO will have 10 barangay youth leaders and 50 out-of-school youth.

An important supporter of the Sari-Saring Aralan CdeO implementation is Melanie Pacatan, known lovingly as Tita Mimi, who owns the sari-sari store which will serve as a hub for the project. Although much of the activities for Sari-Saring Aralan CdeO will be conducted online, owing to current social distancing guidelines, Tita Mimi’s Store will still serve as an important hub for materials for the program.

As support for the participants during the Sari-Saring Aralan online sessions, each of them will receive a mobile phone, load allowance, and grocery vouchers.

Said Maranan: “To the SSA youth participants of Barangay Tablon, congratulations on being part of this project. This whole event is done to show you that as you pursue your pathways, there are people behind you—trusting, supporting, and cheering you on. We believe in your potential and trust that you will use this opportunity well. The time you will put in this project, will be a time you’ve invested, not just for yourself, but for your family and also for your community.”

Said Mayor Moreno: “On behalf of the City Government of Cagayan de Oro, the City Council led by Vice Mayor Kikang Uy, and on behalf of the people of Cagayan de Oro City, I would like to thank Ayala Foundation and Mitsubishi Corporation for making this project possible. I hope that this project will serve as a good model for other cities to replicate in the near future.”

Sari-Saring Aralan CdeO will run from December 2020 to December 2021.

Ayala Foundation, with the support of Mitsubishi Corporation, will next bring Sari-Saring Aralan to El Nido, Palawan.

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