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Literacy rates among the Badjao in the Philippines are below 10%. And fewer than 20% of all Badjao children are enrolled in school.


Our learning center targets these marginalized children, who otherwise would be found begging in the streets of Davao City.


As funding becomes available, children who attend our learning center are eligible to become a part of the Child Sponsorship Program to attend a local elementary school.


What’s needed is a concerted effort across all sectors to improve opportunities and create better life chances for the Badjao.


Our long-term commitment is to provide access to school for all Badjao children so that each one may have a chance to realize their educational goals.



While our learning center provides children with the basic building blocks of reading, writing, and math, this is only a stepping stone that prepares them for further schooling. We eventually hope to enroll every Badjao child in the Davao region in the public school system.


Most of the children do not have records of birth, and an affidavit in lieu of a birth certificate is required before enrolling in public school. We assist the children in acquiring the necessary paperwork and assign them a birth date based on interviews with the parents.


Once enrolled in public school, the initial amount needed to purchase uniforms, shoes, books, paper, pencils, and miscellaneous other school supplies for an elementary student is around $20, and $25 for students entering high school.


When we sponsor students, we don't just buy them a uniform and school supplies and send them on their way; we also provide mentoring and tutoring and take the time to meet with their teachers throughout the year to monitor their progress.


We also provide funds for transportation, snacks during the student's break time, and purchasing materials needed for school projects throughout the year when they are required.


Poverty is much more than it appears on the surface, and it has more to do with self-worth and value than a lack of money and material wealth. Education is the key to alleviating poverty. While everyone who graduates high school and/or continues on to get a degree may not land a high-paying job, what they all have gained is a sense of pride. This is the long-term benefit of education.


In the short term, the child who is in school will no longer be in the streets begging, which will greatly lessen the chances of him or her becoming dependent later in life or involved in crime or drugs. There is less chance of them being involved in an accident that may maim or kill them. For young girls, being in school lessens the chances of them becoming pregnant at a young age, which is a huge contributor to poverty. It also reduces the chances of children becoming victims of abuse and trafficking since the majority of their time will be spent in the classroom rather than on the streets. They will learn better hygiene and health care, which will make them healthier and stronger. 


With an educated member in the household, it is less likely that the family will be exploited through unfair contracts and business dealings, and they will be less likely to be shortchanged when transacting with street vendors. The educated family member can teach their parents and siblings the basics as far as reading, writing, and math, and in time, the entire family will benefit from a single child in the household going to school.



Micronutrient deficiencies in young children can lead to various disorders such as anemia, vitamin A deficiency, and iodine deficiency disorder, which lead to impaired motor development and growth, decreased immunity, and adverse effects on intellectual development and mental capacity. For this reason, we have started an in-house micronutrient program at Isla Verde.

We will be educating the mothers at the Badjao village in Isla Verde about the importance of good nutrition and how to incorporate micronutrient powders into their children's diet.

One sachet of micronutrient powder per child per day provides an adequate intake of vitamins and minerals for children when mixed with food. Each sachet contains a recommended daily allowance of 15 different vitamins and minerals: vitamins A, D, E, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, Niacin, Folate, Iron, Zinc, Copper, Selenium, and Iodine.

Some of the benefits of micronutrients include:

Improving the body's immune system

Improving a child's appetite

Improving a child's ability to learn and develop

Makes a child clever, strong, and active. ​

According to the Philippine Department of Health, micronutrient supplementation has also been shown to reduce:


The risk of mortality is 23–34%.

Deaths due to measles by about 50%

Deaths due to diarrhea by about 40%

Projects: Learning Center
Projects: Sponsorship
Projects: Nutrition


With the exception of special occasions such as Christmas or in emergency relief situations, Badjao Outreach has a strict “no handouts” policy. We don’t “give fish,” as we believe it is actually a stumbling block to sustainable development. However, “teaching a man to fish” is something we believe in and have embedded into all of our programs. We are always working towards an exit strategy so that Badjao can manage, operate, and continue the projects we have developed on their own at some point in the future.


In recent years, many of the Badjao families here in Davao have been able to improve their way of life. Rather than begging for alms, a number of them have become entrepreneurs.


Currently, “Ukay-Ukay” (the sale of used clothing and shoes) is a profitable business for the Badjao. And while the opportunity is limited, a few of the families have even been able to establish “sari sari stores” (variety stores) within their community. We have provided several families with the start-up capital needed to start their own businesses.


While these businesses are not in line with their traditional ways of livelihood, they are still producing much-needed income. The current situation at Isla Verde does not allow for the development of culturally related means of livelihood, but we are hoping to incorporate mat weaving and other more suitable income-producing projects in the future.


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