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Ten Accomplished Youth Organization (TAYO) of the Philippines
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The year 1852 marked as the 10th year search for the Ten Accomplished Youth Organization (TAYO) of the Philippines. From a total of 269 national nominees, only 20 youth organizations made it to the national semi-finalists. These semi finalists, after field validation and a gruelling oral defense, were narrowed down to 10 (TAYO) finalists.

Last December 6, 2012, President Benigno S. Aquino III, bestowed the TAYO award to the I CAN make a difference Inc as one of the 10 finalists, in a glittering ceremony held at the Heroes Hall of the Malaca�ang Palace. I CAN make a difference Inc, is a group of social-change makers who bring simple, cost efficient, environment-friendly, and synergistic solutions to health and other health-related problems within communities thru inter-sectoral participation and inter-community development.

The group started as an advocacy spearheaded by John Michael F. Dellariarte, a medical student of the Ateneo de Zamboanga University School Of Medicine, upon discovering that the piped in water from the shallow-well of Poblacion Lakewood Zamboanga del Sur were tested positive for fecal contamination with E. Coli. In partnership with the Schools and Universities in Zamboanga City, Dellariarte and 5 other core members ventured on an advocacy entitled: I CAN Make a Difference. The program involved collecting 5,000 empty aluminium soda cans that were converted into solar reflectors to aid in Solar Disinfection of water (SODIS). The solar reflector renders bottled water safe for drinking after 2-3 hours of sunlight exposure.

The response of the people was phenomenal. Aling Cely, an ordinary village woman claims, �Because of SODIS, ordinary people like us, do not have to cut down trees for firewood to boil water. We do not have to spend time boiling water, as we could have our water disinfected while we work either in the house or in the rice field�. John Dellariarte recalls, �because we started with the soda cans, the group decidedly called ourselves I CAN make a difference�.

The organization had also successfully built a �Halfway House�, a lying-in centre made out of PET bottles. As it turns out, Lakewood has the highest neonatal and maternal death rate in the Zamboanga Peninsula. Expectant mothers from the other side of the lake could not cross the water while in labor and hence preferred to home deliver their babies. The latter of which could be attended with several perinatal and maternal complications and eventually death. The half-way house could be used as a transient abode while waiting for labor to set in. But more than this, John thinks that the Halfway House allowed ordinary community people to participate in its construction in solving their high perinatal death rate. Dellariarte says �therefore, it is more than just a health facility, it has become a visual monument to the local people�s capacity to solve their own health problems using local resources�.

Now, I CAN is involved in developing the Passion wEARTHy Project, a FUSION of using a new technology of reusing non -recyclable plastic materials and converting them into durable school bags. They have tapped a group of physically challenged workers to form its production arm while providing them with a source of livelihood. The bags are given to school children from underserved areas. This project injects the right ideas of environmental protection, social welfare, and financial security to the physically challenged, while promoting and incentivizing social conscience that education is a right of every child.
 

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