We are not crying over the poor; we know there will always be inequality among people; we are really not very sentimental at all, but when we see potential unused or wasted, we feel an urge to interfere to take care for and develop the potential to its fullest - if possible.
We think we have a great idea! We vacuum clean the public high schools among the poorest of the poor children in Cebu City and select those with the best potential to be future leaders and role models. We work as scientific as circumstances permit in the selection and further we supply additional education in areas where the youths would otherwise fail because of lacking cultural support from their environment.
We choose youths motivated to work inside the Philippines after graduation in order to maximize the spin-off effect from successful professionals.
We have previously been working for 35 years in Europe, developing methods to diagnose and treat juvenile delinquents there. So many resources are invested in those who are not motivated. Still we get result with them. But for a change we would like to invest our knowledge, care and resources in youths who try to struggle despite lack of the same things we use as explanations for others becoming delinquent.
To focus on what is healthy in children despite unsupportive circumstances may teach us new things that the standard form of studying failure does not.
Our logo tells ‘Teaching youths tame dragons' or ‘Taught youths make dragons tame', meaning that with enough knowledge about human beings we can handle also a hostile and ungenerous environment, which is exactly what our youths need to do. If you are borne in the slum, you are not expected to raise your social status very much. There are many forces in the society who try to limit your career. Maybe the old family is the biggest obstacle in many cases, instead too early wanting to share the income from a limited education. Career is also very much dependent on a backing system in this country. You need to know somebody who recommends you to a job, keeping the best positions within the already most resourceful families. Further, if you grow up in the slum, you learn the value system and the life style of the slum, that works well there but not in the career part of the society. You need to re-learn your whole value system to compete with those already borne into the prosperous class. All these are very powerful factors hindering the class travel from poverty to a prosperous career and most often forgotten in charity projects in developing countries.
We are trying to compensate for the environmental deficiencies in several ways. We have a continuous and compulsory seminar series with the grantees every Saturday where we study leaderships all different aspects. We do it in seminar form around good books on cultural differences, leadership, business circumstances, psychology, conflict resolution, body language, sociology, etc. At the same time we are training the presentation skill and use (sometimes very tough) feedback from the other grantees about the ability to get the message through, keep the audience alert and so on. As many of our grantees have outside the foundation very limited grown up support and counseling, the
foundation itself becomes an extended family involved in what ever problems of life may show up. A few become permanent members of the foundation family itself, with the purpose to guarantee sustainability of the foundation for the future.
Once we have selected a grantee, we act like parents in the sense that we do our best to make them really also successfully acquire their diploma. Our selection criteria guarantees that they have the intelligence needed, but so may other circumstances in life are also interfering. Then we try not just to reject them because of temporary failures, but help them with summer classes when needed. Like parents we have to take their emotional development into account and try to provoke development where such is needed rather than act as judges rejecting.
We use to compare our attitude to the one of a gardener who loves his work. We try to feed and fertilize and give water enough to our plants. When a branch is growing in the wrong direction, we cut it off, but we also cover the wound as well as we can so that it can heal. We try to assure that the sunshine comes in the right amount from the right
direction so that the tree will grow healthy and beautiful and maybe give some fruits also. Anyhow our reward is to see it grow.
This means also that we have no demands on our grantees to give anything back to us after finishing school other than act as mentors and backers of future grantees in order to create the necessary network compensating for the fact that they do not belong to famous families in Philippines. We need to make the Kff Foundation their famous family that can act as guarantee for their professional and social excellence. That job has started but is still in its cradle. Mediocrity is our enemy.
Even there is no demand to work for the Kff Group, some may be hired as staff in the supporting companies Kff Corporation, supporting economic development in micro financing business and the biggest financier of Kff Foundation, and Kff Ruftan Pension house that is also partly financing the foundation activity. Kff Corporation is highly Information Technology oriented and can absorb College educated staff both in engineering and in commerce oriented areas. As we normally get 200 qualified applications per advertised position, job opportunities is also an asset for the scholars. Diploma and awards represent only the starting point of a career. Thereafter comes the search for greatness, with growing maturity. Also here the Kff Foundation plays a role. Like normal children in a family you do not just cut the ties after they are finished with College. You are needed to guide them may years thereafter also, only slowly diminishing the guidance detail. That is education. Poverty is only part of the problem.