Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Philippines- Part 2

Here is finally part 2 of my trip to the Philippines
Mr. June
Although we finally were able to settle down to go to sleep at around 2:00 am we had to be at breakfast at 7:00 since the conference started at 8:00.   After opening with a beautiful meditation by the head of AMG Skilled Hand (ASHTEC) we had a tour of the campus.  The campus is nice and houses some 400 students as well as all the staff.  Most of the staff live on campus which allows them more time with the students.  The rules of the campus are strict.  Students are not allowed to have cell phones and have limited access to the internet.  They are also not allowed to have any romantic relationships with fellow students.  They feel that dating distracts a student from their studies.  Although it sounds overly strict it seems to work and perhaps we in NA and Europe have become too relaxed when it comes to our children especially with regards to the use of the internet and cell phones.  
Brian Dennett
One of the teachers and I at the top of the 100 foot tower
The campus has several departments that teach the students (who are mostly aged 15-20) computer programming, computer repairs, appliance repairs, and also welding.  They also have a few other skills that they teach.  I want to focus on the welding part of the work since that is what makes Skilled Hands unique.  They have partnered with a Filipino company whose main focus is sending welders to the Middle East to work on oil refineries.  This company decided to build a life sized part of a refinery.  They realized that it is one thing to teach someone to weld in a shop and quite another to have someone weld several stories up.  This company provides the teachers and Skilled Hands the students.  100% of the graduating students are hired by this company and shipped overseas to work on the oil refineries.  These students end up earning good money and in that way able to support their families back home.  The only difficulty that they have run into is that many families do not know how to manage the money and even though the husband or son is earning good money they often return home to find out that their money is all gone.  Now the company and ASHTEC are working on educating families in money management.  We had the privilege to see the students and teachers in action as they were welding and also receiving safety training.  The company spends a lot of time training the students on safety and they have an excellent safety record.  We also had the privilege of climbing the 30 meter high tower with safety harnesses.  Although we found that the most dangerous part was climbing each set of ladder which was when our ropes where not attached to anything.  However, according to the foreman this is how it is done.  We made it to the top safely and also made it down.  
Looking out over the rice paddies from 30 meter tower.