Virgie Cox and Val Corfield sorting through uniforms for the children from Kitcharao. Photo Contributed
Virgie Cox and Val Corfield sorting through uniforms for the children from Kitcharao. Photo Contributed Contributed

Corfields tell of ongoing mission to help Philippines

GLADSTONE business owners Val and Ken Corfield gave almost 200 Filipino youth the opportunity to gain an education this year.

It's part of their ongoing mission to aid the residents and scholars of Kitcharao.

Since 2012, Val has visited the small village every May.

It all started after her good friend, Virgie Cox, invited her on a trip to visit her family and see the work she did with the Kitcharao National High School.

"You just don't know what you're getting into," Val said.

"It's in the provinces. The people have very little money. Actually, I had a panic attack when we were driving from Butuan to Kitcharao - it was daunting."

But it wasn't long before the people of Kitcharao sparked a newfound passion in the mother of two.

Now her passion has turned into much more than just sponsoring children's education.

She is involved with enrolment days, is welcomed by a special parade and has helped rebuild a home for Virgie's uncle Ignacio.

He lived in a small shack and every time it rained the house would flood.

Uncle Ignacio pictured in the house he lived in before Val and Ken built him a new one. Photo Contributed
Uncle Ignacio pictured in the house he lived in before Val and Ken built him a new one. Photo Contributed Contributed

Val's face filled with happiness as she spoke of his new home.

"We tiled the floor and made sure he had fly screens so he could have his windows open.

"We built him a front veranda with a roof," she said.

"After we left, the towns

people would come past just to have a look at his new home."

Val has been a major force in the growth of the school, which is getting bigger each year.

Next year it will have its first Grade 11 and 12 classes.

"I thought this trip was just going to be a one-off, but they really are part of my family," she said.

"It's unreal seeing the kids come through. I still recognise the children we enrolled the first time I visited.

Val Corfield pictured with some students from Kitcharao. Photo Contributed
Val Corfield pictured with some students from Kitcharao. Photo Contributed Contributed

"There was one boy, he had a funny eye. We asked him what happened and he said he was hitting a nail and it flicked up into his eye.

"Now he is in his fourth year and his report card is amazing."

Val said the children valued their education in a way she thought was unique.

Their report cards are mostly filled with As and Bs, and they have glowing attendance rates.

"We've had guys 18 years old doing Grade 9," she said. "Age just doesn't seem to matter to them.

I thought this trip was just going to be a one-off, but they really are part of my family

"Last year the dux of the school was one of our students. She was given a scholarship to university. She was very proud and came to show us the awards and medals she received."

Before each visit, Val and Virgie send over boxes of clothes, shoes, toys and books.

She has also supplied the school with contents to fill its first aid kit, a digital camera to take photos for the school newsletter and a base drum for the music department.

"People might say you're sending it away, but I'd rather send my money to somewhere that I know what the funds will be used for."

Ahead of their trip for next year, Val plans to host fundraisers to gather money to purchase goods for the village and to go towards sponsoring children.

For information on how to help, phone 4972 6977.

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