Brits urged to forego birthday gifts, donate funds for PH kids

by Patrick Camara Ropeta, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

Posted at Feb 28 2013 12:10 PM | Updated as of Feb 28 2013 08:10 PM

LONDON - A charity registered in England is encouraging people to sacrifice their birthday presents this year in exchange for funds to provide books to impoverished students in the Philippines.

Sambat Trust, a small non-profit organization based in London, has been helping young schoolchildren by providing much-needed libraries and books to local schools in Batangas.

Since 2006, it has so far delivered 19,000 books and granted 38 scholarships, as well as building seven libraries for schools in Sambat, Trapiche, Wawa, Santor, Banadero, Talaga and Pantay Bata.

“All children should have a library so they can read many books and gain moral lessons,” said Joyce Ann Sandoval, a Grade 5 student from the Philippines.

Earlier this year, the charity introduced a fundraising project dubbed as Birthday for Books 2013, which aims to swap traditional birthday presents for funds towards their charity projects in the Philippines.

“On your birthday, instead of receiving the usual gifts and cards from your family and friends, you ask them to sign up with Sambat Trust and instead they make a donation to help children in the Philippines,” explained Tara Abante Thiyagarajan, a London-based supporter of the campaign.

The human rights graduate added: “I would love to help do something for the community there, because I truly believe that education should be an option to everyone, especially young people. I know there’s a lot of causes out there. I know everyone has very busy hectic lifestyles. But just giving a donation, a simple donation, will help the education and future of a kid in the Philippines.”

Filipino authors and publishing companies in the Philippines have already supported the cause over the years, from making personal appearances to providing free copies of their books to libraries funded by Sambat.

In 2012, Filipino author Candy Gourlay visited schools in Batangas, where she also opened one the libraries funded by Sambat.

“It was fantastic seeing children in the provinces, in these small simple schools, reading amazing books. I think books are important, especially in this day and age, when things are moving really quickly, you could so easily be left behind if you don’t read,” she observed.

For the London-based author of “Tall Story,” books were an essential part of her education and development since childhood, which eventually led her to become a successful international writer.

“When I was a child, I feel like I was rescued by a librarian, because I was one of those lonely and left out kids in a new school,” she recalled.

“Then a librarian came along and asked me to read. She kept encouraging me and offering me books, and I was voracious. I just read and read and read, and I think that made such a big difference in my outlook in life, on my ambition, and it made me believe that I could do things I would not have believed if I had not read.”

Founded by British Filipino Anthony Mariano, whose mother hails from Batangas, Sambat has so far raised £12,969 since the start of its projects in 2006.

Its latest fundraising drive, Birthday for Books 2013, runs until the end of the year.

For more information, visit