How much Hay Nako cost to run? (And where do your funds come from?)

Right now, just under $1,000 a month. Pretty much the entire operation is funded solely by Christian Katzmann. This monthly spend is not a huge amount, but it does go a long way. Just imagine what could be done with your donation!

What problems and challenges do you face?

  1. Funding! Money is scarce in Mandaue slum and we can do a lot with just a little. We don’t want to waste resources on administration or advertising. We want to use all of our resources to make life better for the children. That doesn’t mean simply gifting things to the kids. Instead we seek to invest our funds in a sustainable way to bring longer lasting benefits.
  2. The pull of crime and wasted chances. Habits are formed when we are young and Hay Nako is all about instilling the right values and the right habits in the children. We want this momentum to continue so that undesirable and unhealthy lifestyles do not establish themselves later on. The answer lies in positive opportunities and the right education and experiences.
  3. The harrowing experiences the kids have lived through. They will be scarred for life by the hardship, horror and abuse they’ve suffered and witnessed. But these kids are also resilient. Their positivity and good nature is an inspiration to everyone. We are here to guide them out of the past, towards a bright future free from psychological and social disorders.

What do you do for the community?

Like any shanty town, there are substantial environmental problems that plague the community. Health, sanitation, waste disposal, living space and utilities all are below par. One thing we can start by doing is cleaning up our immediate surroundings. Your environment is a direct reflection of you. When you take care of the small things, when you take pride in your local area and local streets, people feel a lot more positive and crime rates recede. Every great journey starts with a small step, and once you start taking these small steps, the whole picture becomes a lot clearer. A more pleasant environment does wonders for the well-being of its inhabitants.

Why did you choose Mandaue?

Mandaue is one of the main cities on the island of Cebu in the Philippines. The city is a sprawling industrial centre, but large parts of it are desperate slum areas with poor hygiene, lack of electricity, no proper sanitation and where the populace are unable to earn a real income. Mandaue is by no means alone in this regard, but this place is, for Hay Nako, our starting point which will be a model for similar deprived and disorganised barrios in cities like Manilla and Quezon, as well as our immediate neighbours, Cebu City and Makati.

Our Founder, Christian Katzmann first visited the Philippines as a university student in 2018. He was shown around the slum by a local friend and witnessed the tragic conditions there. From that moment onwards he decided to dedicate himself to changing lifes in the slum and bring hope to the deprived children there.

What activities do you do?

We may go to the cinema and enjoy a movie or to the beach and play frisbee. The kids often celebrate each other’s birthdays, and sometimes we have sleepovers under the stars. Whatever we do, they absolutely love it. It’s the highlight of their week and a great deal of fun for the volunteers as well!

The most important of activity is a project called ‘Hay Nako City” where the children learn about ideas related to democracy and community. They get to elect a president, a vice president and other roles among themselves. They then get to vote on which charity projects we should do together.

When the kids had not enough food or learning themselves, helping others didn’t occur to them. How could it? But with just a bit of direction and assistance, they begin to look outwards at the wider system of which they are a part. They start to consider the world and the needs of others.

Personal growth does not come from education alone. When humans have a positive group goal in mind and we pursue that goal, we become truly happy and valuable people in the world.

What is the 4-Pillar Approach?

Basic Needs, Community, Education and Experiences. We believe these are the four areas that children need to grow and become positive, resourceful and happy people.

Basic Needs – including personal safety and shelter. Not much can be achieved until the kids have full bellies and feel safe. Right now, the main part of this drive includes a daily meal for all of the children at Hay Nako.

Community – We want the slum to become a place of health and prosperity. By building community we enable responsible leaders to emerge at all levels. Through community, we find strength and hope. Through community, we look out for each other and begin to sow the seeds of trust and enjoy the fruits of hard work. In time, this leads to a measure of prosperity and improvement, however small that may be. Any journey that’s going any place special, starts with these small steps.

Education – Our school is currently maxed out with 50 kids. We want to grow bigger, and we will in time. But we have to be very specific in what we can teach and what we should prioritise. For this reason, our main focus at the school is developing the children’s minds through art and English literacy to foster creativity and give them a toolbox to express themselves well.

Childhood – see above under “activities”

What’s the future for the kids?

We believe that every person has potential to achieve exceptional things in life. The children of Mandaue have experienced the most terrible hardships and misfortunes. And for older children the traps of crime, drugs and violence are unfortunately a stronger pull than learning skills and building family life.

However, with the children enrolled in Hay Nako, we have a small window of opportunity to point them down the right roads in life. We begin teaching them when they are 7 years old, which is pivotal age in determining the outcome of their lives. That is why we are optimistic. If we can teach them well at this key age, then as they grow we can encourage them into fruitful fields like enterprise, community leadership and giving back to the community.

What’s the future for Hay Nako?

We have a long road ahead and there’s much work to be done. But with the right support, we’ll get there.

Firstly, we need to enlist all of the kids in the slum, not just the 35 we currently care for.

Then, we need to make a real impact in cleaning up the surrounding environment. We want to effectively double our scale of operations this year.

Beyond this, there are many more deprived slum towns we will eventually be able to target. But what we also hope to do is create self-sustaining programs leading well into the future. Introducing micro enterprise and sports are two favourable areas to begin with.

Hay Nako’s purpose is to guide the kids safely into teenage and adult life and to continue the progress we’re making. We are constantly planning for the future.