DMI works in three regions of the Philippines: Davao, Ligao, and Visayas.
The Immanuel Deaf Centre at Davao on Mindanao Island provides excellent kindergarten to college education. There are nearly 100 students attending this school that has been educating the Deaf community for over 20 years. Most students come from remote areas and live at the school during the term, travelling home for holidays. Many students start school late due to distance, and some students are orphans – the school is their only home. Our dedicated leaders at Davao give these children special love and care.
Older students are very grateful to have the opportunity to complete High School and College at a school specifically for the Deaf. Most families cannot afford to pay for their Deaf children to go to school, and they need financial support through sponsorship. A High School group for blind students has commenced and music is now enhancing the school community.
This school is very highly regarded by the local government and community. It plays an active part in community deafness awareness programs and presents dramas at local festivals. University students visit to learn about education for the Deaf. Many students have trained at this college and now work as teachers or leaders in Deaf communities in the Philippines. Several Deaf communities have been established on Mindanao Island where Deaf people help each other in times of need.
The Fishermen of Christ Learning Center at Ligao started nearly 20 years ago and provides kindergarten to college education for Deaf children and young adults. About 80 Deaf students attend this school. The school owns a jeepney, which is typical of the unique colourful buses that are used in the Philippines. It provides transport for students and school excursions. Students who live too far away from school to commute will stay in the dormitory and travel home at the weekend. The Mayon Volcano overlooks this school and has caused severe damage in the Bicol area over the years. Bad typhoons also occur in this part of the Philippines. Our main building was replaced and other buildings repaired after the volcano erupted and typhoons hit at the same time in 2006. Our building is now recognised as the Evacuation Centre for the area.
This school has a farm that produces vegetables, various fruits and rice each year. The papaya plantation is growing well. Most of the produce is used for self-sustainability. Any excess, such as with papaya and coconuts, is sold and profits go back into sustaining this initiative. The rice mill and piggery employ Deaf people, and any profits help support the school financially. This farm also provides an opportunity for older students to gain vocational training in farming and animal husbandry. Students can also complete a computer course, dressmaking, and other vocational training at our College, and some have completed further studies and become teachers of the Deaf themselves. Past students from the school have started Deaf communities in this area where Deaf people support each other at difficult times throughout their lives.
DMI supports two dormitories in the Visayas region. They provide accommodation for up to 40 Deaf students who come from remote villages where there are no schools for the Deaf. The dormitories are at Bacolod on Negros Island and Borongan on Samar Island East. Deaf students stay at these dormitories and attend a government school that caters for the Deaf or a Special Education (SPED) Centre. The dormitory leaders are Deaf themselves and give loving care to the students 24 hours a day.
Bacolod is a highly urbanized city of half a million population. Sugarcane plantations are the major agricultural crop in surrounding areas. The young children at Bacolod are cared for by Deaf house parents and a trained teacher of the Deaf in a “home away from home”. They are given nutritional food, medical care, help with homework, opportunities to use computers, and time to just play with their Deaf friends. The Deaf community at Bacolod has also established an Internet Café where Deaf people and the dormitory students can develop computer skills and have access to the Internet. This provides important learning opportunities for older students to extend their education, but they badly need new computers costing up to $1000. The internet café also provides a place where the Deaf can gather and socialise.
Borongan has a population of about 60,000 people, and Samar Island is known for beautiful black and white sand beaches. The teenage students at the Borongan Dormitory are very keen to learn and share the cleaning and cooking duties under the direction of their Deaf leader. Some students are orphans, and many started school late because there are no suitable schools near their homes. They are so grateful and happy to go to school for the first time in their lives.
An organic farm has now commenced at Zamboanguita on the south coast of Negros Island, where vocational training in farm skills is offered. Fruit trees, a vegetable garden, and a piggery have already been started. A couple from Canada are leading this venture, and a Deaf-blind man and his family are working here. It is hoped that this project will give training to Deaf people and provide income to support the dormitories and self-help projects in the future.