Meet the locals improving the lives of Filipino orphans
A GROUP of locals is having a big impact on the lives of orphans in the Philippines.
In 2011 former Gladstone residents Jason and Leanne Buchholz became involved with Shepherds Arms Children's Home on the island of Bohol during a holiday.
Since then the Rotary Club members have relocated to the island and inspired other Gladstone residents to make the trip.
Next Friday Calliope Rotary Club member Alexandra Heron will return for the third time since 2017.
Ms Heron said the facility, with about 30 children, had transformed from a single shack since Mr and Mrs Buchholz first visited.
"They very quickly got on board and got funding from Gladstone and other Rotary clubs around Australia got involved and now the kids have a beautiful two-storey brick building," she said.
"There is an expansive garden and orchard for growing food coupled with a breeding program for goats, pigs, ducks, chickens, turkeys and fish."
She said her past trips involved building a perimeter fence around the property for safety and to keep livestock in, re-netting chicken coops to prevent snakes entering, building pigsties and new garden beds.
"So doing things to make the home sustainable," Ms Heron said.
"They obviously still need some funding but if we can get the food side sustainable and build the infrastructure for that then they'll need less."
Ms Heron said the timing of the upcoming trip aligned with the graduation of a student at the orphanage in Psychology, with two others having previously graduated as teachers.
She said the visit would also be spent helping set up a new free Community Medical Centre on the property, which will be run by volunteer Filipino doctors, nurses, dentists, paediatricians and optometrists.
"Because they've built the new medical clinic we'll be doing things like painting and tiling and plumbing," she said.
"It kind of gets in your heart and you keep wanting to go back and help the kids. It's really nice to do humanitarian work on a beautiful island."
Ms Heron said a large number of prescription spectacles were required at the new clinic.
"About one out of two people who will come into the clinic will need glasses and the cost of glasses in the Philippines is the same as the cost in Australia, but if you think about people's incomes in the Philippines it is significantly less," she said.
Glasses of any prescription level can be dropped off at Rayment Excavations, Scrapbook Fantasies or RE/MAX Gold before March 22.