Books Across the Seas Project

By Christopher Raye Taton | Posted on June 13, 2024

Service in Action: Through seas, rivers and mountains.

“Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them.”

May 8, 2023, the Rotaract Club of Cebu South (RACCS) commenced the Books Across the Seas Project. This initiative was birthed in the hopes of building learning resource centers and sharing reading materials to schools and communities that are located in far-flung areas. The first and inaugural recipient of this project is the Cansalo-ay Integrated School in Oslob which is approximately over 122 kilometers away from Cebu City. This is just the first in the series of outreach programs that we have outlined for this project. 

The team travelled from the seaside area to numerous terrains to reach the secluded area of Cansaloay which is approximately 122 kilometers from Cebu City.

Days prior to the conduct of this project, the club members have been actively collecting books and reading resources from community partners and sponsors through the efforts of Jess Anthony Cruz, member of RACCS Council of Past Presidents. This would also not be a tangible project without the support of the local government unit of the Municipality of Oslob. 

We were beaming with hope and enthusiasm as we started our journey towards Cansalo-ay. The road to our destination was not an easy one. With the heavy load of books, we had to pass through rugged terrains, rock-strewn paths and traverse rocky rivers in the mountainous areas of Oslob. 

These are the books donated by Past President Jess Anthony Dela Cruz. The team went straight to the library to present the books and display it in the shelves.

Upon reaching the school, we were greeted by the teachers who were wearing such genuine smiles. As we unloaded the massive pile of books, the teachers alongside their students happily helped us from carrying the materials to arranging them in their library. It was remarkably a heartfelt moment when our dear teachers were teary-eyed scanning the learning materials while saying “Salamat gyud kaayo ninyo. Naa na gyud intawn maanindot nga reference materials ang mga maestra og estudyante. Dili lang ning mga karaan na and medyo gisi-gision na nga mga textbooks from DepEd.”  (Thank you. Finally, the teachers as well as the students have amazing reference materials aside from the old textbooks from DepEd).

We saw a glimpse of hope to the teachers’ eyes as we talked to them about the support we will be providing for the school and students. They have sent their Thank Yous for multiple times as they are genuinely grateful that an organization was able to reach out to their remote community.

We could no longer count how many thank yous we’ve heard from children saying it in unison or from the teachers who repeatedly expressed their gratitude, but each time, it amplified our drive to do more for these children and communities. All the sweat, muscle pain from carrying the books and braving the excruciating summer heat were all worth it.

Hope Creating Secretary Elena shared a story of hope with the pupils and students of Cansaloay IntA

The Rotaractors also conducted a storytelling activity which hyped all the students. Laughters bursted and eager hands were raising while asking questions about what happened next. They couldn’t wait to find out how the stories would end.

The rooms are filled with pure joy as we serve the kids their favorite Filipino-style spaghetti partnered with bread and juice.

We ended this activity by sharing snacks for everyone. We prepared the all-time favorite Filipino style spaghetti partnered with bread and juice. The smiles painted on the children’s innocent faces were immeasurably a testament of how happy they were. Some would even just take a small bite and would say that they’d bring their food at home and show it to their parents and siblings. They seem so eager and excited to go home and share their stories of what happened today, what gifts they received and what lesson they learned from the tales as told from the story books.

Kindgarten pupils are very eager to take a photo with the club members after receiving the sweet snacks.

Witnessing and experiencing this made the spirit of volunteerism, the heart and hope of Rotaract more ignited as we envision to reach more communities. May these children remember every time they open and read the books we shared that there were people who were there to support their learning. May they treasure the gifts we brought and open new worlds and dream with it. May this act of service resonate within them and may they pay it forward to their own communities once they already reached their aspirations. 

Through seas, and rivers and mountains, the act of service shall continue through and through. 

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