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Nestled under the grant-making program Barangay Cherry Mobile, “Be Cool in School” is a back-to-school project dedicated to keep pupils in school, particularly those who come from poor communities. Many kids in the provinces do not go to school primarily because their parents could not afford to buy them school supplies. Through the “Be Cool in School” program, Barangay Cherry Mobile provides study kits to pupils in selected public elementary schools in order to assist the government in retaining pupils in school.

This School Year 2014-2015, “Be Cool in School” went nationwide and focused on reaching the rural poor and indigenous communities in different areas in the country – 21 provinces, 85 schools, and almost 16,000 beneficiaries in total.

Barangay Cherry Mobile shared resources and started ripples of fun and inspiration in areas where others would not want to go – among the poorest of the poor, areas affected by insurgency, calamity-stricken locations, and isolated communities. The back to school project spread its arms to cover much of the island of Luzon; traveled far up to the mountain-residing communities in the northern regions; and left behind modernized surroundings for a while to meet the children of the untouched plains of Oriental and Occidental Mindoro.

The volunteers flew to various places in Visayas to shed hope to the victims of calamities and isolated communities; continued on the journey rain or shine, night or day; and crossed rivers and climbed mountains literally in Mindanao to reach remote tribal groups and people residing in conflict areas.

This year, the project catered to various indigenous people: the Ifugao, Aetas, Dumagat, Badjao, Mangyan, Hiligaynon, Blaan, Tboli, Maguindanaon, Tagakaulo, and Tausug. Among the beneficiaries as well are the relocated informal settlers in Laguna, the urban poor, calamity-stricken communities specifically in Samar and Leyte, and families that are internally displaced due to war. This altogether is an action fueled by compassion for those who needed help the most.

Aside from the gift giving activity, Cherry Mobile aimed to uplift indigenous school kids who might have been left out or put down in some way in the areas where they are located. This is to help them appreciate their identity and at the same time promote camaraderie through games and inspirational messages.

Barangay Cherry Mobile achieved “Be Cool in School” this year through the untiring support of the local government units (LGUs), the Department of Education, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) particularly the Philippine Army (PA), the generous Cherry Mobile dealers, and the community of barangays who benefited from the Gift Giving.

The impact of this endeavour could be seen in the faces of the beneficiaries – their gratitude for having visitors come from the other end of the country to see them personally and to make them feel that there are other people who cared for their needs. Where others simply cashed out donations and merely turned over goods for delivery, Cherry Mobile toiled to endure long drives, fly skies, cross rivers, and climb mountains.

This is not only to make the presence of the brand felt but to see, touch, hear, and feel what the communities experience, and to realize that indeed, simple gifts of school supplies matter to these people. But even so, there is more yet to do to help these people empower themselves and make their communities sustainable in the coming years.