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What’s It Really Like Being an ANDAKIDZ Volunteer?

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Our two handicraft volunteers Anni Ansmann and Janika Prinstmann have just completed their placement here at TAFIAS as part of the ANDAKIDZ project co-funded by the Estonian Government.
They both did a great job!
As a result of their efforts we now have a solid team of well trained locals who can make jewellery, bags and the already famous CocoBra.
When volunteers are nearing the end of their time we like to ask them three questions:

What have you been doing?
What has been/was the effect locally?
How have you or will you benefit from the experience?

Janika Printsmann answered:
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Several times I’ve been asked – what have you learned while being here? what have you gained?

At first I would say I don’t know, I don’t want to bother my head with it. Let me just be here in my own little bubble with myself. But really? Actually I’ve been afraid of new things and situations and fighting with it. What will I do, when I get back home and I don’t have job? I have met many new and wonderful friends and everything’s changing. I have learned patience, rushing doesn’t take you anywhere and learned to control my emotions (it doesn’t always work). Knowing that I can’t change other people, only they can do it. It’s an old truth, but still actual every now and
then. Never say never, I will never be a teacher, but yet here I am teaching and guiding 😀

What have been the biggest challenges working here and how can I help the local community?
Foremost leaving the comfort zone and understanding that local opportunities are limited. All the necessary things have to be found here and with local opportunities, not like in Estonia. Here you don’t have that variety of goods and the chance to go to the store and buy everything you need. Everything takes more time than we’re used to. The only motivation is money and food, because you can’t cope any other way. Changing people’s way of thinking and showing other possibilities, that the things you do now can help you and bring the food to the table also in the Future such as the opportunity to teach your daughter handicraft and to widen their horizon. Although our Talisay community is run by an incredible lady, Ana Mainit, even she was impressed, when I started to make different things from the coconut shells that were just lying around the house. She was surprised – is really money lying around the house like that?

When working together with locals, you need to give them freedom and make them think. You’ll have to be on the same level with your students, you’ll have to respect their culture and traditions. Only then will they embrace you and be like sponges, who absorb the knowledge. A good example is man who saw me messing with a coconut shell and then started to experiment with the shells and his bigger machine. And eventually he made some cool stuff to make earrings from – hearts, flip-flops, seashells etc. Or a girl, who saw a tie I made and a bit later made a copy of it herself. Old ladies crocheting are as vivid as the young. They just look at the crochet hat and start making them. There are many opportunities for recycling and natural handcraft.

I think that my contribution to the local community is actually quite big. In the sense that it changes their way of thinking and broadens their mind. To see the chances that can actually be made in limited, having only the skills to do it. Also to know and hand on those skills to your children and grandchildren. To awaken interest and will to do something. Something for yourself…

…to come out from your bubble and move on as a richer person inside.

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Anni Ansmann’s answers were:

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For the last three months I have been a handicraft teacher in Philippines, as a volunteer. The organisation ANDAKIDZ is a non ­profit organisation that works in the village of Anda, Bohol together with local organisations. The aim of our project is to create jobs in this area and to teach local people some new skills. Together with one other Estonian volunteer we design and create products, which could be produced from local materials and can be sold to tourists. We have shared our tasks according to our professions – I am dealing with all the works that concern using the sewing machine and Janika helps the ladies create jewellery. ANDKIDZ got a very good sewing machine from Estonia, which we are using now here. The machine is good to sew thick and strong materials together. I am teaching some locals how to use that machine so they could use it for some future jobs. Until now we have had some interesting orders already and we sincerely hope there will be more in the future.

The first and the biggest order was from a local resort. We had to sew many cushion and sunbed covers from artificial leather. That work was pretty hard and there was a lot of work to do, so I think it was a very useful practice for ladies. The result was great and the owner of the resort is very happy with the covers. After that job we started sewing some accessories from empty chicken /pig feed sacks. It was also a very good practice, as sewing the feed sacks is not a very easy lesson. The material is difficult to cut out and to sew. Luckily everything turned out great, now we have some bags ready to wear, sold in one of Anda’s most visited restaurants, Coco Loco. After that lesson we started sewing stuff with some regular fabric. The students know now how to sew pockets, zippers to the fabric, some bags and aprons.
All the students did great job.

The most enthusiastic and skilled student has now become so good, that we decided to teach together with her. We made some patterns together and taught a local group some basic sewing skills. After I’m gone, she can continue teaching and supervising sewing jobs around here. I believe she is ready for it.

What has been the effect locally?
I believe that the active and positive energy coming from us has given a lot of motivation to local people. The unemployment rate is really high in this area and giving the locals a little bit motivation and activities in the community centre might light a bulb in their head also. There might be no jobs around here, but there is a possibility to create some We try to create our products as easily as possible, so people could continue doing them without owning any special equipments. We have given them our acknowledgements about creating the products and they have given us some life wisdom as well. Also we have created a working place with a good atmosphere, where people are coming daily with a good mood and that is very
important.

How will I benefit from this experience?
It is difficult to describe how thankful I am for this opportunity. This has been a great experience! It is not very easy to just stop your life in your home country and quit everything to come and work in totally different country on the other side of the world. Everything is really different here and it needs some time to get used to it. Working together with locals is the best way to get to know some new cultures. I feel like part of their life already and I like that feeling. I also like the feeling when you can give some useful acknowledgements to them, that they could use in future. The people are extremely thankful and generous here.

I will take a huge baggage of experiences home with me. It has not been an easy ride but I’m really glad that i did it! Working in really extreme conditions with very few tools need a lot of nerves and patience. All the problems has to be solved very creatively with not losing your
patience. This is something European people should learn more I have also gathered a lot of inspiration for continuing my work back home. All the life here has changed my view how I see life around me and how I appreciate things I have. I feel that I have completed my mission here and
I have given a lot for helping this community and that feeling is good. The time we had here was quite short, so we had to act and think really fast without making any pointless moves.

I wish everyone the best and I really hope things will get better around here!

Handicraft Livelihood Project

If you don’t speak Estonian you might be wondering what the recent posts with handicraft pictures are all about!
Let me explain..

In a project co-funded by The Estonian Government two wonderful ladies have come to Anda for 3 months to train unemployed locals to make various handicrafts. Most of the local trainees are mothers but some unemployed out of school youth and fishermen are also involved.

Janika Printsman and Anni Ansmann, both professional handicraft makers, have been showing and teaching various skills at the ANDAKIDZ COMMUNITY CENTRE in Talisay, Anda, Bohol.

The products that are being produced include:

– Bamboo, coconut and shell earrings, bracelets and necklaces.
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– Coconut bow ties (we think the President of Estonia, Mr Ilves, might like these…)
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– Coco Bras (actually bikini tops)
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– Bags of various shapes and sizes made from pig and chicken feed sacks!!
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In addition Janika has been teaching and building a stock of Estonian style crochet hats and kidz dresses.
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Anni has also mentored one woman Jill as a seamstress and work has been gained making cushions and other materials for a local resort.
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So far over 20 people are involved and we expect to pass on more skills to more people before the project ends.

Tools and equipment are being left with the group so they can continue to make and earn long into the future.

Orders and enquiries have come in from Estonia, Holland and we expect and welcome more.
Prices are very favourable in European/western terms and so if you know anyone who would like to purchase and resell any of the items then please get in touch with me, Robin Gurney, robin@andakidz.org

First deliveries can be made to Europe in April and May.

Business is Going Loco at TAFIAS… Coco Loco

It’s been so busy (in a good way) and a major breakthrough in developing business/ revenue for TAFIAS has been happened over the past 3 months.

Following the success and ideas that came out of the TAFIAS Eatery project it was decided that TAFIAS and local private investors would combine to make a tourist café which would heavily promote TAFIAS food products, volunteering at the ANDAKIDZ Community Centre and donations to ANDAKIDZ in general.

The café, COCO LOCO, is held in the name of a TAFIAS member, Rizza Amoguis.
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After a period of testing various products with Filipinos, foreign tourists and expats we agreed to centre the initial sales effort around the following:

*Coconut Burgers
*Pumpkin & Sweet Potato Leaf Burgers
*Organic Ice Ice Cream in mango, banana, coconut, seaweed, ube, chili, moringa and other seasonal flavours.
*Iced tea in Blue Ternatea and Lemongrass flavours
*Tilapia Chips in 5 different flavours
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Note that Coco Loco is also a big consumer of the taro flour…handmade from the taro root onsite at TAFIAS. It is used mainly in the pancakes.

Coco Loco serves 3 goals that underpin the ANDAKIDZ project to increase business for TAFIAS.

Sales. Coco Loco established itself as the busiest and best (according to TripAdvisor) restaurant in Anda (and the fifth best in the whole of Bohol!!)… so sales have been brisk. And the number one product? TAFIAS Coconut Burger!! Coco Loco now produces more revenue for TAFIAS than any other client.
Research. The café is a perfect testing ground for new products to see what works and what doesn’t for foreign tastes. This is important because we want TAFIAS wholesale orders too.
An ordering and testing point for wholesale buyers. Already a number of resorts are expressing interest in stocking TAFIAS products. Two of the first to test sale were One Peace Beach resort and Anda Cove. Anda Cove is doing steady business with the coconut burger, iced tea and Tilapia Chips.

Blue Ternate Flower Tea

Innovation is important in any business and so we encouraged TAFIAS to, whenever possible, create unique, organic food products. One they came up with is Blue Ternate (formal name, Clitoria ternatea, due to its clitoris shape!) Flower Iced Tea. Not only is it blue! and delicious this flower has some impressive claims on health benefits.

The tea is on sale at TAFIAS Eatery and proving to be a big hit 🙂
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In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, it has been used for centuries as a memory enhancer, nootropic, antistress, anxiolytic, antidepressant, anticonvulsant, tranquilizing and sedative agent.
In traditional Chinese medicine, owing to its similarity to the female reproductive organ, this plant has been ascribed properties affecting the same (a phenomenon also found in connection with the mandrake, among other plants). It was used traditionally in an attempt to treat sexual ailments, like infertility and gonorrhea, to control menstrual discharge, and also as an aphrodisiac. This practice aligns with an ancient belief recorded in the Doctrine of Signatures.
In animal tests the methanolic extract of Clitoria ternatea roots demonstrated nootropic, anxiolytic, antidepressant, anticonvulsant and antistress activity.
Source: Wikipedia

TAFIAS EATERY

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After a series of meetings with TAFIAS key members and TAFIAS internal consultations it was agreed that the initial focus had to be on fast revenue generation. The fact is TAFIAS and its members are struggling financially. It has become clear that the money issue is a real threat.
Whilst sales of the Tilapia Chips are steady the volumes are low. The season is when tourists are in Bohol and that’s not until December 2015.

The first step made therefore was to create an eatery/mini café next to the ANDAKIDZ Community Centre on TAFIAS “territory”.
Using some materials supplied by ANDAKIDZ and recycled materials a hastily-built café was up and running in just a few weeks.
Why a café as a first step?
The road. There is a new road being built from central Anda all the way to Lamanoc Island. It’s a huge and long overdue project and because of it there are many road construction workers who need lunch.
Also the Community Centre and TAFIAS both attract visitors on a regular basis to see what’s going on. Having a food and drink option (rather than just snacks for sale) seemed a wise move.
On top of that in the barangay (village) where TAFIAS resides, Talisay, there was no real eating and meeting place.
So now there is a café and its starting to work..of course the revenues are small but it’s a step in the right direction.. 🙂

The Project is co-financed by the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
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ANDAKIDZ Projects for 2015/6

In August 2015 I, Robin Gurney, ANDAKIDZ Director and volunteer, headed back to Anda, Bohol after a few months break in Europe.
My goal over a 8 month period is to assist ANDAKIDZ local partner organisation TAFIAS in product development and marketing (finding marketing and distribution channels for existing and new products etc.) and in revenue creation for the community and the ANDAKIDZ community centre

Robin Gurney celebrating continued cooperation with with TAFIAS President Virgilio Mainit

Robin Gurney celebrating continued cooperation with with TAFIAS President Virgilio Mainit

(rental of premises and equipment, organising the events etc.).

First step is to develop a strategy and action plan for revenue increase of the community centre and TAFIAS.

The activities are continuation of the project “Creative Marketing for small businesses” project completed in early 2015 where the result was the launch of TAFIAS World Famous Tilapia Chip’s (thanks also to vital input from ANDAKIDZ volunteer, Janno Siimar).

My project is the first of four happening in 2015/6
MTÜ ANDAKIDZ and its long ­term Filipino partner TAFIAS (Talisay Fishermen’s Association), both entirely staffed by unpaid volunteers, opened a community centre to serve disadvantaged communities in Anda (Philippines) in 2015. This new project provides an additional 4 volunteers to optimise and develop the management of the centre and, to specifically, create reading, playing and learning opportunities for local children and sustainable learning and revenue generating opportunities for unemployed women and fishermen in the area. This project is part of wider program of privately and Estonian government funded development cooperation activities by ANDAKIDZ.
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