THE AIMS OF AFAS
AFAS aims to provide an opportunity for friendship and solidarity between the students and staff of Augustinian schools and colleges in the Philippines and in Australia. Villanova students and staff come to learn and to appreciate the Filipino culture and gain insight into what it means to live in a developing country. There is a strong sense of solidarity as AFAS strives to work with Augustinian communities to support struggling talented students to gain an education. The aims of AFAS are realised in the biannual friendship exchanges of Villanova staff and students to the Philippines.
In 1993 the first friendship exchange was inaugurated with students and teachers from Villanova College, Brisbane travelling to Augustinian communities in Cebu, Bacolod and Iloilo. This first exchange established the bonds of friendship and solidarity that have formed the basis of the nine subsequent exchanges to Filipino Augustinian communities. The exchanges have included staff and students, except in the years 2001 and 2003, when only teachers travelled to the Philippines. Political unrest at the time deemed it unwise take students.
In 1995 three Filipino lay Augustinians visited Villanova College and in 1998 AFAS supported Filipino students who attended the Augustinian Youth Festival in Sydney. Also in 1998 Villanova College hosted a group of students from Regina Carmeli, Augustinian College, who performed an historical play for the Villanova community. In 2008 AFAS was able to sponsor a Filipino teacher from Murcia in the Negros Occidental, to attend World Youth Day in Sydney.
AFAS PARTNER SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES IN THE PHILIPPINES
Since 1993 AFAS has worked in solidarity with Augustinian communities at Divine Love School in Talisay in Cebu, St Tomas of Villanova School and College in Danao, Cebu, Colegio San Agustin in Bacolod. University of San Agustin and the Augustinian school, Iloilo and La Consolacion Academy and College in Murcia in the Negros Occidental.
AFAS ACTIVITIES IN THE PHILIPPINES
Education scholarships. Between 1995 and 2013 AFAS has funded 130 education scholarships for poor students at primary, high school and college level. The AFAS scholars are selected by the staff in the local communities. AFAS has also funded resources for schools including library resources, computer resources, physical education equipment, musical instruments, science equipment and art supplies.
AFAS also undertakes projects such as – painting classrooms, cementing and providing seating for an outdoor multi –purpose court, resurfacing a basketball court and building an outdoor study kiosk. AFAS has supported outreach programs such as building two community centres in poorer areas where families can come together to worship and where young children are able to learn basic numeracy and literacy skills and life skills such as health and hygiene practices.Emergency relief has also been provided to schools in the wake of the 2013 earthquake and typhoon which devastated many areas of Cebu and Leyte. Other projects have included establishing cooperatives in poor areas in the hope that a reliable income would support families in their struggle to keep their children at school. This initiative has since been discontinued as it lacked a support structure to ensure the ongoing success of the program.
AFAS AT VILLANOVA COLLEGE BRISBANE AUSTRALIA
AFAS could not have achieved so much in the twenty years since its inception without the ongoing support of the Villanova community. The boys in the AFAS ministry group work constantly throughout the year to raise awareness of social injustice which precludes some poor students in the Philippines from gaining even a basic education. Each year there is an Aid Day to both raise awareness of our Filipino friends and to raise money to fund the scholarships and projects undertaken by AFAS. AFAS is grateful to Villanova's successive Principals and to the staff, students and families of Villanova College, Brisbane for their ongoing commitment to making a difference giving poor young people in the Philippines a chance for a better life. MOST RECENT AFAS VISIT TO THE PHILIPPINESA number of Villanova staff and older stuidents made an AFAS biennial visit to Augustinians schools in the Phil;ippines during the school holidays on 18 September to 4 October 2015.