Two Remarkable Social Entrepreneurs and Their Yellow Boats of Hope

What would you do if you discovered that young children in the Philippines were swimming to school? Well, this is the remarkable story of what two social entrepreneurs did. Jay Jaboneta and Anton Mari H. Lim are the co-founders of the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation and this is how their story starts...

In October 2010 Jaboneta was a guest speaker at the Mindanao Bloggers Summit in Zamboanga City in the Philippines. He learned that about 200 elementary school children from an island village called Layag-Layag in Zamboanga City could only get to school by swimming half a mile to reach the mainland. These young children had to endure real hardships to get to school, as apart from the strenuous swim there were the things like trying to keep their books dry or keeping their feet from getting cut on the sharp coral and shells on the sea bed. Disturbed by what he had discovered, and wanting to do something to help, this social entrepreneur began a movement with Lim, calling it ‘Zamboanga Fund for Little Kids.’

Jaboneta and Lim are social entrepreneurs focused on education, medical support, sustainability and crucially, about empowering others. They started to raise funds to be able to provide this community of islanders with boats, which the children could then ride to school. They also began to look at other ways they could sustainably support this community, and discovered other island populations with similar needs. Consequently, their efforts resulted in four separate initiatives and in the end, by this May, they were able to provide four ‘yellow boats’ to island communities in the Philippines.

All this was made possible through a very strong and talented community combined with the power of social networks and the spirit of two social entrepreneurs who together created the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation, Inc. The work of this organisation has evolved as the Foundation now provides support to the villagers and its school children with the provision of scholarships, school supplies and medical and dental help.

There are some very moving and beautifully filmed videos on the Foundation’s main website capturing the voices, the innocence and the experiences of these children who used to swim to school. One child says, “We are grateful for the boats, we are happy and we are never late for school.”  Some of them are so small and young, yet they wanted to go to school even if it meant a big swim, because even at such a young age they understood how an education could help improve their lives and those of their families. The Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation has given these children a future and shows ‘it only takes one person that cares to make a difference.’