Ante Dulce is a 4th grade teacher in Eastern Samar who has been struggling to teach students who can't read since the pandemic. After years of disrupted learning, the government estimates that up to 40% of elementary students in that region of the Philippines are significantly behind in reading and comprehension. After taking a look at the data on reading comprehension for her school, Ante Dulce saw that one community had more non-readers than other nearby communities, so she took it on herself to start a Saturday reading program in Suribao.
Suribao is a poor, frequently overlooked fishing village that previously had no evangelical church presence, and little opportunity for kids. So, it was no surprise how excited parents were when Ante Dulce offered to teach their children how to read. After several weeks of meeting with students under a tree, a local family offered a portion of their property, and the villagers helped build a simple building for the tutoring. As reading capacity increased, so did their receptivity to the gospel, and the building also became a meeting place for the evangelical church.
The kids themselves are very excited to learn to read; some of them even line up at the church two hours before class starts on Saturday afternoons. Ante Dulce shared, "When we started some of the kids didn't even know letters, but the students are making progress little by little." She offers similar worksheets and reading training at a church plant in her own community on Sunday mornings as well. Though Ante Dulce brings her own materials and often travels to Suribao by herself each weekend, the literacy programs she facilitates are part of a bigger movement in Eastern Samar.
Church planters and pastors in and around Borongan City are using Steady Readers programs like the ones Ante Dulce is running as outreach opportunities into the communities. They are helping to meet real needs in their communities, and the classes and materials center around Christ's love and the hope of the gospel. Parents are encouraging their kids to attend classes outside of school because they are eager for their children to advance in life. And simultaneously families are more likely to take an interest in the churches and come on Sunday mornings to learn more.
Many of these pastors are part of a church planting cohort that ReachGlobal Crisis Response has been investing in for the last several years. Our first partnerships in Eastern Samar date back to 2013 after Typhoon Yolanda, and it has been a blessing to see how God is growing the churches in the last decade. We continue to invest in the Philippines in partnership with the Evangelical Free Church of the Philippines-EFCP and others to establish the Church where the gospel isn't known, and it is one of Crisis Response's longest partnerships that has spanned several crises. You and your church can be a part of this partnership as well. Your gifts go to sustain outreach opportunities like these literacy programs, as well as helping to support churches and church planters that have started since Typhoons Yolanda in 2013 and Typhoon Odette in 2021. For more information on the church planters cohort and ReachGlobal's partnerships in the Philippines, email email@example.com.
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