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34 Zamboanga Christian & Muslim youths granted KRIS scholarship

Thanks to Facebook – coupled with concerned netizens of the World Wide Web -- 34 poor Christian and Muslim kids in Zamboanga City are going to school as scholars this year and thousands more will get to read books, use free computers and study in a private library in a far-flung place hardly reached by the Internet.

“It’s ironical that what Mark Elliot Zuckerberg intended to be a dating site has turned into a socially beneficial engine now powering the education of very poor children who would have dropped out of school had their sad plight not be known to kind-hearted individuals in Manila and far corners of the world – courtesy of Facebook and the Internet,” said Armand Dean Nocum, founder of the Kristiyano-Islam Peace Library (Kris), a non-government literacy advocacy group.

Nocum came out with the statement as Metro Manila has been hit recently by serious crimes to include murder and rape resulting from contacts of people through Facebook and other social networking sites.

Nocum admitted to having considered pulling out of Facebook after his own Yahoo site has been hacked Tuesday and from where messages have been sent to friends about him needing money because he was stranded in Spain.

“I realized the Internet has done more good than harm to our advocacy to bring education to poor kids in Mindanao. Recently, a donor I met through Facebook a donated P50,000 to enable us to put to school our first five college scholars and 29 high school and elementary school students in Zamboanga City.

Nocum said that since making his 10-year-old advocacy known through the internet through his personal Facebook page the and Kris Library website over a year ago, he had received almost US1,500 donations from friends and relatives from the US, Ireland, Canada, Hawaii and all over the country.

He said the funds helped complete the half-finished Kris Peace Library which had been helping provide for the research needs of poor children in 10 far-flung barangays and sitios in Zamboanga City since 2008; built three restrooms so the female students doing research in the library will not hold on to their bladders for hours before reaching home through muddy fields; and construct a computer and livelihood rooms there.

“It seems weekly blow-by-blow pictures of the construction work really convinced donors that we mean well. Pictures of kids and scanned writings of their appeal for help because their parents can no longer afford to pay for their continuing schooling also convinced our sponsors to sent help, thus making it possible for us to increase our scholars to 102 thus far,” Nocum said.

He also said that postings of videos of Kris scholars relating the ways Kris Library had helped them, pictures of them beaming with medals as they graduate as valedictorians, salutatorians and with high honors also inspired people to help.

“Most of our donors gave books, chocolates, toys, printers and used computers for free use by the students because through the Internet, they believe they have already gotten high degree of closeness with our scholars,” said the Manila-based Nocum who communicates with his staff and Kris beneficiaries also through the net even if there is yet no reliable line from Manicahan.

With growing support through the Internet, Nocum said Kris Library has expanded to Quezon City and had committed help establish Kris Peace Libraries or donate books to the Typhoon Ondoy and fire victims living in a resettlement site in Montalban, Rizal; kids who swim to school in Layag-Layag, Zamboanga City; and poor kids helped by the Claretian Missionary Order in Tungawan, Zamboanga del Sur.

“Amid all the computer hacking, robbery and other crimes done through the World Wide Web, there is love and caring in Facebook and in the Net,” said Nocum, a former journalist.

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