Scaffolding MyPALs @F-L-O-W
the book @F-L-O-W

Scaffolding @F-L-O-W

Supporting families in the Philippines

Our goal is simple: we have targeted a small group of 50-100 families with varying needs and we’re continuing to scaffold them over time, which I think is the secret to escaping the centrifugal force of gravitational poverty.

It’s not easy to do this, as you shape their lives at the same time. It’s not like a bread line or sign-up for benefits. We have about 25 who have been with us for more than 3 years, 5 for 4 years, and the rest in varying amounts.

We can study them with this method to get them to teach us about poverty and how the strange attractor of poverty works, as well as what we have to do to meet that force equally.

I’m not sure if we are succeeding. It’s very difficult, but through the years, the ups and downs of these people and those they bring to us, we are channeling scaffolding towards them.

Business wise, what I am doing each year, is putting more things in place (infrastructure) to train and equip these disadvantaged people, in large part without much education, to try to cope with increasing complexity.

We are gradually — albeit too slowly, but unless you just dump the people without capability and go hire those who have it (which aggravates the root cause) — sticking with them until they spin out, as some do into other jobs. We have several who have found good jobs and livelihoods after being on the street (not many, but a few). And the others continue to gather capability in ways in which we can scaffold.

Unfortunately, you have to deal with the floods, typhoons, health setbacks, funerals, births, and stuff along the way.

I encourage everyone to donate wherever their dollar goes the farthest. The government, in my view, is being disingenuous with what is going on. They are now saying in the provinces affected that it might take MONTHS for electricity to come back into service, and water is intermittent now at best, if at all. Imagine living like that as we have people doing right now.

So we are patiently accepting any donations you will send our way to continue to support these MyPALs and their families in the ways in which we can, to best help them.

We will graduate our first MyPAL (after 3 years) in travel and tourism and we’re hoping she can lead the new project starting next April as she will exchange work for her tuition/fees and support we have provided her over the last 3 years for our project, which I hope to have in beta by next March/April when Gary becomes another guinea pig for the project.

Below are some pictures of our first spec house being built as well as the views from it.  We have hundreds of pictures from the very start of the building process and I am showing ones that capture some of the views.  The last picture is a bamboo house that was later destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan.

Generati Spec house 9-2-13Generati Spec House 10-2-13
Generati Spec House 10-18-13Generati Spec House 10-31-13
MyPAL Bamboo Home before Typhoon Haiyan

The Generati project started two years ago this December when Manya and James came for a hosted visit in order to begin to understand what we had to do to scale a hosting system, which millions of foreign visitors can take advantage of over time. This is the scaffolding @F-L-O-W that I have chosen because it brings in foreign dollars (leverage) and offers our hosts opportunities to meet foreigners in the process.

In order to do this, we have to put in place infrastructure, which is difficult with people who are “loose” in a culture which is loose. Sometimes I want to throw in the towel, but then again, that is part of the problem… Removing the scaffolding before it is frozen in place long enough to support the weight of change.

Infrastructure includes systems and standards, English training, computer training, training on etiquette, and a host of calendaring, and travel considerations for curb-to-curb service that foreigners will pay for in order to have a great experience. was started by the government 2 years ago and I decided in my “spare” time to help create a parallel process which provides curb-to-curb service based on all the good/bad experiences I have had as a foreigner and how to avoid MOST of the problems and enjoy your visit, stay, or life using what the Philippines has to offer.

The reason I’m writing about this, is it takes time to do a project like this, not only for the infrastructure build out and standards, but for the leadership to come on board to do it, because believe me, I have several REGULAR JOBS, and I am not @F-L-O-W doing a lot of the details involved in the process of curb-to-curb.

However, I could NOT find another business model that will give us the leverage and compounding required to help these people long term learn to fish instead of just providing fish as we do in these kinds of climatic events. The turnaround for a lot of these people is years, and will be years for those who have suffered complete losses and partial losses as about 5 of our MyPALs have suffered. So it’s not just a donation here, or rice there. It’s a continual supply of funds and cash flow to help them remain out of the street or in destitution.

I hope that explains our project and why we continue to try to provide benefits that will help raise money for our projects with our MyPALs.

Yesterday, one of the babies got “sicker” and it required serious cash for them (which they don’t have, to keep the baby from going south). Who provides that? I did, with some of your help, send them money on the fly to give the baby a series of potent injections for a viral infection that had the baby in convulsions and more than likely was misdiagnosed a month ago when we treated for an ear infection, supposedly, and “teething pain” (OMG), the medical care in the provinces is not high quality!

Below are two pictures they sent to me of the Dipolog team, from left to right, Aira, Wen, Wen-baby, Kristina (team leader), I don’t know the other child. This was on Wen’s 21st birthday, and the day after she is rushing the baby in convulsions to the hospital. I attached the photo of the simple birthday they were having (as a result of our donations) for the family of 9 and friends. You can see it’s mostly rice and of course a big cake supplied.

MyPAL Dipolog TeamWen's birthday celebration
I want you to know where your donations go.

It’s important you realize that on the end of the money are people’s lives, living everyday things, like celebrating a 21st birthday with a family that doesn’t celebrate birthdays much because they can’t afford a cake!

This same family had no television. We arranged donations to buy a TV (with mixed emotions) for Wen, on the farm, as the family had never owned a TV in their lives. They get one channel now with antenna… Isn’t it hard to believe, still, people don’t have a TV… Or electric, or water in their homes… Or bathrooms?

While giving a TV with mixed emotions, it will help them see weather warnings as well as other things the family misses, and of course entrain them into BS too, ugh…the TV cost $60 with a free antenna, less you think we are wasting your money.

But such simple things that change an entire family dynamic, such as saving a child who would have died, or helping with a birthday cake or TV are things your money is doing for the people we find who are worthy of help and down because of no fault of their own.

I hope that explains some of what we do, and over time, if you arrange to come see us, you’ll see other things we are doing to help scaffold @F-L-O-W a small group of very deserving people.

I attached the photos sent to me by Kristina, who is a 2nd year college student studying to be a teacher (without our help would have had to stop last year to go to work because she is oldest with a child of 3 and has 7 brothers!). Because of your/our help we were able to pay her partial tuition (as she has a scholarship to pay half — same as Lyn who will graduate this next year), which the family would not have been able to afford.

Kristina is working and was just trained in MyPAL basics and Level 1 (website/virtual work) and will be starting the Dipolog team (the idea is to find people in all tourist centers and form a working team, while helping them in preparation for our HaveMoreFun project).

So while you can and want to send donations that leverage your gifts, remember we need your help too with very specific goals in mind and very specific contributions to people over time in order to provide scaffolding for teaching people how to fish, not just providing fish.

Everyday I want to quit… Everyday, I keep going…

Yesterday as well, someone tried to kill one of the MyPALs’ fathers. We don’t know why. It just happened. He had emergency surgery and they requested supporting funds. We gave, because this MyPAL had demonstrated over two years a close relationship with the father (who we treated for TB) and is willing to do whatever she can to help her family.

It’s 30 events a day: a school project here, funeral there, a birth over there (Manya, Lorena gave birth to baby girl during typhoon; some of you might recognize her as the girl we showed an example of her broken English at the Vegas retreat 3 years ago, who was concerned about being thrown away like garbage).

Everyday, I grow thin (I wish) in terms of my resilience in these matters, but if not me… Who?

Each of us has a role to play in society and it’s not the one we have been entrained on with BS. It’s key that we begin to understand that to those who have been given… They must in fact, give… A lot more than we think we should.

Keeping ourselves tunnel visioned and cocooned in our own little safe, secure, middle-class worlds is one thing; seeing that 3 billion, or half the population lives on the edge of food, health, and comfort everyday is something totally foreign to most of us!

Whatever you do, find some way to give back — that which you have been given!



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