The Storytelling Project: Let’s raise a nation of learners
Grace Soriano (The Philippine Star) - June 6, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Why do we tell stories? Let us count the ways – to spread happiness, to ease the pain, to teach a lesson, to express gratefulness, to bring joy and healing. We tell stories because life itself is a story to be told.

“Tell your story, you never know whose life it could change,” Rey Bufi, founder of The Storytelling Project, has told me countless times.

In our many immersions, I have heard him share stories over and over, but they never get old. The light in his eyes, the excitement in his voice, and the passion in his words are as though the story is being told for the first time.

It’s like bearing witness to something that has just begun.

Rey was not a reader. He wasn’t the academic type but he loved people. He is that person you know who is friends with everyone – one who talked about life lessons with a greasy mechanic, retell his favorite movies by heart over and over; the quintessential joker, the comforter who had a knack for storytelling.

With his challenging experience in school, he found the motivation to pursue his passion – to share stories the way he knew best.

Now, Kuya Rey, as he is often called, lives his passion of telling stories to children in far-flung communities, to parents of his learners, to students, to teachers, to volunteers, to anyone who cares to listen. He founded an NGO called The Storytelling Project (TSP).

The Storytelling Project aims to spark hope, inspiration and imagination through storytelling; to make reading an enjoyable experience for children; to start a reading habit; and to instill the love of reading and learning in all TSP kids.

Because TSP is focused on communities where literacy is low and learning resources scarce, volunteers tirelessly cross rivers and excitedly conquer mountains to reach remote communities to bring its brand of happy learning.

The organization helps them develop a culture of reading through a three-phase program:

Imagine – Build the kids’ imagination through the 21-day Storytelling Program, story writing sessions and empower the community.

Create – Create avenues for exploring their newfound love for reading through the TSP Library Project.

Share – Share knowledge and experiences with the community through TSP Book Club activities.

Kuya Rey stays in the community for almost a month to give daily storytelling sessions for kids. They sing, dance, play, craft, draw, listen, experience, and learn.

I had a chance to stay in a few communities with Rey to share my love for teaching and writing to older kids. Every day, we would visit a house so that we can learn more about the kids, their families and their homes. Our students happily trek with us, eager to share more of themselves. It is a chance to commune, to share stories and to build relationships.

We’re very happy to say that The Storytelling Project has now grown into a community of passionate volunteers who lend their time and talents because they believe in common goals – to provide storybooks for every Filipino child, to build a library in every Filipino community, and to raise a nation of learners.

In December 2014, we launched our first book entitled Super Labandera, written by TSP learner Jim Mark Carolino from Dagupan, Pangasinan when he was in Grade 6. It is a story borne out of a child’s love and admiration for his superhero – his mother.

This year, TSP hopes yet again to publish Ti Dakkel Nga Armang (Ang Malaking Alamang), a story created by a group of public school teachers from Luna, La Union – the  product of one of several teacher training sessions funded by Synergeia Foundation in partnership with the local government unit. Part of the proceeds will go to the writers, and to make The Storytelling Project sustainable in their community, part of the book sales will also go to their community fund.

We want everyone to be inspired by what children and teachers produce through our story writing workshop, to see that anyone can be empowered to write his/her own story book and to encourage others to write their own stories as well. 

This is our journey; the unfolding story of TSP, and we invite you to be part of the journey as well.

Please visit our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheStorytellingProject/. TSP also welcomes donations to Kwento Pilipino Inc. BPI Checking Account #4531-0001-08.

BRACELET SMARTPHONES
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