In a country where 40% of the population lives below the poverty level and 25% of the Philippines’ 100 million inhabitants go to bed hungry, the need for relief is immense. Based in Cebu City, project partner Rise Above Foundation Cebu (RAFC) works with the local community, and overseas volunteers, to provide free quality services to some of the poorest neighborhoods and institutions within the city and surrounding areas.

RAFC’s programs focus on health, training and education. These include free medical and dental services, oral hygiene programs at schools, hunger prevention, women’s livelihood training, free daycare for children of mothers in the livelihood program, and educational scholarships. Disaster relief efforts continue well after the 2013 Haiyan Tsunami, providing humanitarian aid and rebuilding homes for families in hard-hit areas. Up to 200 international interns participate in RAFC’s volunteer program every year, and hundreds of medical professionals have assisted at their free dental or medical camps, where over 35,000 patients have been treated to date.

The Rise Above Community Center was constructed on the outskirts of a slum named Sambag II in Guadalupe. One building houses a fully equipped dental/medical clinic, computer classroom for out-of-school-youth education via the “Alternative Learning System” program, a modern kitchen for preparing nutritious hot meals for impoverished families, and showers and restrooms.

A second building, completed in 2015, offers a spacious library with patio sitting areas and a conference room on the ground floor, and volunteer accommodations upstairs. Volunteers help run the library program, where preschool and elementary children arrive after school and receive help with homework, enjoy reading from the library’s diverse collection of books, and engage in educational activities. Newly installed playground equipment—the only one in the area, offers recreation and fun in a safe environment. Continued expansion will include a large multi-purpose room for seminars and events.