..ONE night last January, Paolo Martin Saberon bumped into a stall where bags made of recycled materials were sold by a group of women in the IT Park, Cebu City.
Months later, the 22-year-old founder and executive director of Cebuano Youth Ambassadors (CYA) thought of selling bags made of used tarpaulins to help poor students.
“We feel guilty to leave tarpaulins behind after our events,” he said.
This guilt led to CYA’s launching last April of its program “Basuraskwela” a combination of the Cebuano words “basura” (garbage) and “eskwela” (school).
According to the group’s Facebook page, they encourage the government, non-government organizations, private institutions and companies to donate their used tarpaulins so these will be recycled into customized Basuraskwela bags, wallets and other usable items.
Saberon, a native of Davao City, said they have already produced 140 bags in partnership with women members of an urban poor community in Barangay Tingub, Mandaue City. Some of these women were the ones Saberon met at the IT Park.
The Junior Chamber International (JCI)-Cebu is the marketer of the Basuraskwela’s products. Proceeds of the sales will be used to finance the education of 50 kids from elementary to high school.
Last Wednesday, JCI-Cebu turned over P30,000 to CYA, after 100 bags were sold. Each bag is worth P300. A part of the proceeds will go to the women who made the bags.
Saberon said they also plan to help 20 graduating high school students in Pinamungahan town after reading a newspaper article about students who walk to school barefoot.
For this project, CYA is partnering with Tsinelas, a non-government, non-profit organization that helps poor students in Cebu’s mountain barangays.
Aside from making bags, Saberon said they will also go to their chosen community twice a month to mentor students.
To monitor the students’ progress, psychology students bond with them and let them write their experience in a diary.
They also teach children how to reuse and recycle through storytelling.
The group also does coastal clean-up, tree planting and gathers youth for talks about protecting the environment.
Saberon said their initiative supports the Cebu City Government’s campaign in reducing waste and it strengthens the friendship between student leaders and volunteers.
“Our thirst to help grabe gyud,” he said.