UC students volunteer in typhoon-hit Philippines

14 December 2015

Thanks to the life-changing hard work of nine passionate UC students, a Filipino community has a large permaculture garden to produce food and income for local families.

Thanks to the life-changing hard work of nine passionate University of Canterbury students, a Filipino community has a large permaculture garden to produce food and income for local families.

The UC students volunteered for nine days in Iloilo, south of Manila, an area devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. After the typhoon many farmers turned to growing rice to recover their destroyed income and food sources, but the crop is not enough to feed the community or to provide a healthy diet.

UC student Kendra Titheridge describes the volunteering project as “absolutely incredible”.

“I’m studying Political Science and Spanish at UC because I want to do development work in the future, and this was an amazing opportunity to get hands-on experience.”

Kendra and her fellow students created a 500m2 permaculture garden, with a new irrigation system designed to save the school money long-term and two enclosed greenhouses built to survive typhoons and heavy rain. The garden will produce healthy food for the community and any excess can be sold for profit. 

Kendra wants the garden project to be replicated and implemented in other developing countries around the world by university students. She says she found the whole experience life changing.

“We were working so closely with the community by the time we left, some of the teachers and students were crying. We are all going to take this with us forever.” 

Associate Professor Sussie Morrish, who accompanied the students on the trip, says they learnt more in the Philippines than they could in a classroom.

“This is real life experience with real consequences and the joy and pleasure that I saw on their faces despite the sun, sweat and long hours was heart-warming.”

The UC students called themselves the ‘Green Library’ team because they intend the garden to become a plant library of seeds and seedlings for the Iloilo community. The Green Library team is composed of the two teams that came second and third in the UC 21 Day International Challenge competition held earlier in the year. 

The challenge gave six teams 21 days to develop a practical and unique solution to help improve the socio-economic well-being of the people of Northern Iloilo, an area hard-hit by typhoon Haiyan in November 2013. Each team comprised five students and five business mentors.

The Green Library team worked with Nicomedes Tubar National High School in San Dionisio, Iloilo. Flights for the Green Library team to the Philippines were paid for by their business mentors and the UC Alumni Foundation.

The winning 21 Day Challenge team visited Tarong, a barangay in Carles, Iloilo, in July 2015 and established a beekeeping co-operative using a stingless native honeybee species.

For further information please contact:
Margaret Agnew
Senior External Relations Advisor
Communications and Engagement
University of Canterbury
Ph: (03) 364 2775
Mobile: 027 5030 168
margaret.agnew@canterbury.ac.nz

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