Courtney handing over a ceremonial check of her donation to Rene Garrucho, ANCOP Coordinator for BC with Consul Rogelio Villanueva of Vancouver Philippine consulate
When Courtney Barich revisited the Philippines in Sept. 2014, it was to personally meet the 40 ANCOP scholars she would be supporting for one year in St. Martin de Porres orphanage.
Earlier in March Courtney was in this country as part of the Holy Cross High School mission team of 40 composed of students, teachers and a priest – Fr. Patrick Teeporten formerly of IC Delta Parish. The trip was organized by Holy Cross High School in Surrey in partnership with ANCOP to provide students opportunity for immersion, experience poverty first-hand and serve the less fortunate.
Holy Cross mission team 2014
Prior to the trip the mission team had raised funds that they donated to ANCOP to build 6 houses including 1 by Tessa Beauchamp Foundation. Alvin Parapilly, one student who joined the trip shared, “From the moment we were chosen to go on this mission trip, we began to prepare tirelessly for our journey. In terms of fundraising, we did it all; we recycled cans every week school, held a dinner dance with a masquerade theme, worked on Holy Cross’ Multicultural Day and sold samosas at church. The work never ended but it was all worth it.”
When they arrived in the Philippines Courtney and the rest of the mission team helped in the actual building of these houses putting more value to their fundraising efforts. True to their mission, the group labored hard to help construct the houses transporting and putting up heavy cement blocks for walls, mixing cement, clearing the area of rubbles, and painting the completed houses. “Building houses in the scorching and humid temperatures was mentally and physically exhausting, but witnessing firsthand the smiling faces of the people for which we were building inspired us to work even harder,” wrote Rebecca Waithe a Grade 11 student.
As the team closely interacted with the family beneficiaries in various ANCOP sites, some shared about their life-changing experiences in their encounter with people finding meaning in sharing their lives with those in need.
For Courtney, it was the orphans in St. Martin de Porres orphanage that left a huge imprint in her heart. The orphanage is a halfway house in Tondo, Manila (a crowded and impoverished area in the Philippines) that opens its doors to street children, the abandoned, the neglected, the orphans and the runaways.
She came back to Vancouver nurturing a desire to do something more for them. So much so that when her high school grad ball came, the $700 cost of a grad gown made her balk. “While I would love to join my peers and dress up in a glitzy dress for grad, I feel we are so spoiled as Canadian children and the need to wear that glitzy dress is not important,” Courtney wrote in her blog.
Courtney opted to wear a burlap gown instead made out of the burlap material for potato sacks. She was hoping to use her dress to get her message across and inspire people to help in her fundraising. The initial material that cost only $3 was created into a stunning gown through the help of designer Suma Faulkner of Lata Design who was touched by Courtney’s story and wanted to help the teen achieve her goal. The gown was a hit and succeeded in putting forward Courtney’s campaign. This unique gesture from the eighteen-year old caught the public eye towards her cause and people rallied to help her. Courtney was able to raise $15,360. She handed the check to ANCOP during the ANCOP Walk 2014 in Vancouver.
In her TV interview in the Philippines in September, Courtney shared that she will continue working for her cause and will inspire other youths to do so. “I plan to create burlap dresses in collaboration with Lata Design for the June grad. I hope that many girls will buy and wear them for my cause,” she said. “I want to raise more funds for ANCOP and for the orphans during the next ANCOP Walk in Vancouver.”
In appreciation of Courtney’s support, the orphanage created “Courtney” burlap bags out of the material for peanut sacks which Courtney promoted during her TV interview. The project is new and small but it aims to grow big to be able to provide livelihood opportunities for women working in St. Martin de Porres and to augment the funds for operating the orphanage.
Courtney plans to share her cause with other young adults in Canada and hopes to bring them with her next time she visits the Philippines. Already, Courtney’s brave effort has touched her peers. One of them is Sara Kollman a Grade 11 student who was also a member of Holy Cross 2014 mission team. “I am truly blessed and motivated to keep helping and I am proud to say that one of my fellow mission team members is leading a great example of that,” Sara wrote in her article.
This early a new team from Holy Cross is already gearing up for the next mission trip to the Philippines in March 2016.
By Edna Garrucho, ANCOP International (Canada)