Girlie Garcia-Lorenzo, Kythe Foundation’s executive director; Milette Belen, Telus International Philippines’ CSR and Community Board manager; Karen Rivera, Kythe Foundation’s partner relations manager; and Phoebe Carrera, Telus International Philippines’ CSR officer
MANILA, Philippines – Every child has the right to learn, play and grow, even those confined to hospitals.
Telus International Philippines (TIP) teamed up with the Kythe Foundation for a day of shared learning, playing and growing with children currently under the care of the Philippine Children’s Medical Center in Quezon City. A group of TIP team member volunteers were given the opportunity to interact with the kids in a safe and nurturing environment, where they got to know one another, played games together, and learned from each other, thanks to a P280,000 / CDN $7,110 donation to the Kythe Foundation from the TIP Community Board.
The Kythe Foundation, led by executive director Girlie Garcia-Lorenzo, holds events like this to give confined children a chance to have fun and celebrate, while at the same time shedding light on the issues of improving the quality of life of hospitalized children with cancer and other chronic illnesses. TIP supports Kythe’s commitment to understanding what children go through at hospitals and its mission to identify and respond to the needs of child-patients in holistic ways.
The TIP Community Board is an instrumental part of the company’s “we give where we live” community investment strategy. TIP’s Community Board is comprised of distinguished community leaders and local Telus team members who have strong connections within the community, business and leadership expertise, and a great sense of compassion and willingness to make a difference. This community board is tasked with making strategic local funding decisions; decisions that focus on addressing specific community needs and partnering with local organizations to help solve existing or emerging issues. TIP’s board reviews charitable funding applications from local non-profit organizations and makes decisions designed to deliver the most positive impact on local communities. All in all, it is a fundamental part of the TIP culture, and this is where TIP and its team members get to participate and host activities that allow them to give back.
The Kythe Foundation started 22 years ago as a pet project of two students who were taking their Master’s degree in Psychology at the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City. It was through their coursework that Icar Castro and Maria Fatima “Girlie” Garcia-Lorenzo had their first interactions with pediatric cancer patients. This experience proved invaluable to their research, but more importantly, this gave them the opportunity to discover the positive effects of psychosocial support and play therapy among pediatric patients in coping with their illnesses. This is what ultimately sparked their personal and professional dedication to chronically ill children and their families. They decided to name their organization after the Scottish word “kythe,” which means “to manifest itself.” It embodied what they believed: that through acts of sharing and togetherness, they could promote healing and growth among children battling chronic illness.
In 1992, founders Icar and Girlie enlisted 20 student volunteers and one partner-hospital to take part in their cause. Two decades later, Kythe is now made up of 500 individual and corporate volunteers and 13 partner-hospitals. Under the leadership of executive director Girlie Garcia-Lorenzo, The Kythe Foundation continues to inspire hope among chronically ill children and their families across the Philippines today.
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The Kythe Foundation currently focuses its resources on running their Child Life Program for hospitalized children. The Child Life Program has been Kythe’s brand of pediatric care, and remains the foundation’s baseline requirement for their day-to-day work through the psychosocial support given to children. The foundation’s staff is made up of Child Life practitioners who either have a doctorate or master’s degree in Psychology/Counseling or are registered social workers.
“The Kythe Child Life Program in the Philippines aims to provide psychosocial and medical needs to indigent pediatric patients and their families who are facing emotional turmoil and financial burden when they are coping with a child who is chronically ill,” says Lorenzo. “The objective of the Kythe Child Life Program is to alleviate the anxiety of pediatric patients who suffer from illness such as cancer, heart conditions, kidney disease, and blood disorders.”
“Kythe has supported over 8,000 pediatric patients through our affiliate hospitals across the Philippines,” she continues. It is the pioneering work of Kythe through its Child Life Program that sponsors and donors respond to. It is most certainly the reason why TIP’s community board selected Kythe to be one of its chosen projects to support this year.
One of the pillars of TIP’s caring culture is their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) mandate. With the help of its Community Board, an innovative corporate philanthropy model that further demonstrates the company’s commitment to their CSR philosophy — “we give where we live” — charitable organizations are invited to apply for one-time funding for projects in the areas of health, wellness, education, sports, arts, and culture. The board distributes up to US$100,000 to local charities annually.
She ended the day’s activities with this message: “I invite you all to learn more about Kythe and our Child Life Program in the Philippines through our website and discover how you can be a part of it.”