By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao
When it comes to farming, it takes more than just a yearning to grow crops. It requires a set of values such as patience and determination. A successful farm also demands the right skill sets for it to meet its full potential.
It involves social, management, and organizational skills, and more. These proficiencies are what AHA! Learning Center aims to instill in its students.
Angels Here Abound
AHA!, which stands for Angels Here Abound, is a project of the Commodore Jose Francisco Foundation. It is a premium afterschool program that offers free tutoring for academic subjects and also focuses on values formation for public school children living in Makati.
Currently, the center has several teachers and volunteers who help in tutoring as well as developing different positive characteristics among the students. The learning center has helped around 2,000 children since they started in 2009.
Starting Them Young
The Learning Center has a mission to produce students who have the right skill sets by exposing them to agriculture which is considered as the backbone of any community.
AHA! recently launched an agriculture program where they partnered with Kai Farms to create a module where the children can experience farming and obtain qualities from it to use in their daily lives.
“Farming creates safe spaces inside your [own] home and having plants increases your level of responsibility. This is also an avenue for our students to practice the core values, like grit and commitment, that we teach,” said AHA! founder and president Jaton Zulueta.
The learning center’s agriculture program aims to shape students into resilient workers, independent adults, critical thinkers, and helpful Filipinos, or the R.I.C.H. for short,
“We believe that if you’re able to farm, it fills in those aspects because it requires time and labor extensive skill sets,” Zulueta said
AHA’s Agriculture Program
The program stemmed from Zulueta’s interest in the concept of a community garden. He talked to different people in order to make the idea into a reality.
Luckily, Kai Farms opened their doors to the concept and helped AHA! source speakers and teach students the basics of farming.
The children not only learn from the classroom but also through hands-on activities done on a plot of land in the Makati area sponsored by JCI LIPA, JCI San Juan Dambana, and JCI Alabang.
“Every open space, every open lot, can actually feed and serve so many different people,” Zulueta said.
Aside from educating the children, AHA’s agriculture program also involves the mothers in their efforts.
“What’s integral for this program is to have the mothers and the students learn edible farming together, at the same time,” Zulueta said.
Involving the Community
Zulueta hopes that the program will pave the way for the center to create a pilot project where they can go around the country and have an edible farming program.
There will also be some cooking classes where both the students and their mothers can learn new healthy recipes.
“You have to be creative in involving more people. It’s kind of like an indie band–you have find like-minded people. Start somewhere and keep adding more people as you go on,” he said.
He added that if the program becomes more readily available, then maybe that’s when real change can happen.
To learn more about AHA and its programs, contact 8040091 or e-mail fb.com/ahalearning.