February 17, 2003 - Manila Times: Doreen Meyers' noble mission in Mayoyao

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Philippines: Peace Corps Philippines: The Peace Corps in the Philippines: February 17, 2003 - Manila Times: Doreen Meyers' noble mission in Mayoyao

By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, February 17, 2003 - 6:48 pm: Edit Post

Doreen Meyers' noble mission in Mayoyao

Doreen Meyers' noble mission in Mayoyao

A noble mission in Mayoyao

By By Terrie B. Fucanan

When Doreen Meyers went to the Philippines roughly three years ago as a US Peace Corps volunteer, she expected her stay to be another one of those immersions she’s had in other developing countries. The then 22-year-old American never thought that her presence would be significant for the people in her community — one that even she would have a hard time leaving behind once she returns to her country in the summer.

In the year 2000, Meyers, a wildlife management graduate, decided to sign up as a volunteer in the US Peace Corps, an international volunteer organization assisting countries around the world in business advising, environmental awareness, and education.

The youngest of five children, Meyers suddenly had the urge to break away from the safety of her home and “go out to participate in a worthwhile experience.” She joined the Peace Corps since it offers opportunities of traveling and exposure to different countries.

For her assignment, Meyers was not sent to an urban region of the Philippines but to Mayoyao — a humble municipality located next to Banawe in the Central Cordilleras. Her trip to the town included eight hours of rough road bus rides and long walks up the mountains (what with Mayoyao’s elevation being about the same as Baguio) amid strong rains, an experience that, Meyers said, makes her mission to Mayoyao “all the more meaningful.”

The young lady devoted her entire two-year stay in Mayoyao on volunteer work, introducing organic farming to the community. She lived a meager life, subsisting on allowance and moving from one house to another for a place to stay.

As the days and months passed, Meyers found a home in Mayoyao. She communed well with the natives, and marveled at how happy and contented they are with such a simple lifestyle. Needless to say, she found joy in the quiet, rustic, and unworldly life of the people.

“I always wanted to go somewhere where money doesn’t matter. And Mayoyao is that place,” she said.

Turning point

After almost two years, Meyers realized that her mission isn’t almost over after all. She could do more for Mayoyao beyond Peace Corps work, and that began with her utmost concern over the mediocre learning received by the children in this rural community.

With outdated and insufficient resources, quality education is hardly achieved by the students, majority of whom would not be able to pursue college degrees with the lack of exposure to outside information and study materials.

Perhaps the town’s only access to information is Mayoyao’s small public library, which was opened by a Peace Corps volunteer 15 years ago. But the materials are limited and old.

And so Meyers started searching for corporate donors who would be willing to donate books and other resources for a public library. The municipality has about 30 schools, and kids from kindergarten to high school are in dire need of reading materials that would connect and inform them about the outside world.

As early as July last year, the 25-year-old lady has already sent out letters to companies, “all of which were either unanswered or declined.” Meyers almost gave up hope when she received feedback from American Express (Amex), a financial services and network company that has established its first Asian office in Manila in 1916.

Through American Express Country Manager Ian Fish, Meyers was able to generate a donation of $8,000 to put up the public library. The cash grant also comes with Amex Foundation’s donation of used PCs and printers, desks, chairs, and filing cabinets, not to mention a book drive the company is spearheading to solicit books from the US and in Manila to add to the materials.

An environmentalist himself, Fisher has focused the foundation’s projects into supporting worthy causes such as wildlife conservation for the Philippine Eagle Foundation, the conservation of the Angono Petroglyphs in Rizal, and the restoration of the San Sebastian Church in Quiapo, Manila among others.

This is the first time for the foundation to support a different mission, though Fisher is optimistic that the donation can “start a meaningful change in the community, and open opportunities to better the lives and the future Mayoyao children.”

The cash donation from Amex will be used to help renovate a portion of the old Mayoyao municipal hospital, which would be transformed into a large open room spacious enough for a library. The renovation will mostly consist of fixing the windows, doors, ceiling, and floorboards. The remaining funds will also be used to purchase books, tables, and other equipment.

All these, plus a load of books in Meyers’ garage back home in New York that has been solicited by her family will make for a functional library which is set to finish this coming April. The library project is being done also with support from Ifugao Rep. Solomon R. Chungalao and Mayor Ronnie Lumayna of the Muni­cipality of Mayoyao’s office.

Leaving home

Meyers always wanted to become a doctor. But it turned out she would cure and fill a different sort of inadequacy in the lives of others. With her volunteer service over since last May and the library project taking form, the young woman is set to embark on another journey when she goes back to her home in New York.

She will go back after the project is completed, and once she finds competent personnel who can run the library’s operations. Awaiting Meyers in the US is her unfinished goal to finish a masteral degree in international development, and of course, her family. But that would still be months away, and right now Meyers is just enjoying quiet time with her new dog, Jao-Jao, and the blessings given to her and to the people of Mayoyao.

“My relatives actually didn’t approve of my condition here. But this was where I was able to do things that I never had time to do before. And even if I had all the money in the world, I’d still choose this life. I’d still choose Mayoyao. It’s my home.”

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Philippines; Service; Special Interests - Wildlife Management; Special Interests - Libraries



By Mario Garcia (cpe-65-248-212-34.popp.net - on Monday, December 29, 2003 - 5:44 pm: Edit Post

What a delighful story. You should write a book or a journal for us to read; it would fun reading it.

By Mario Garcia ( on Monday, December 29, 2003 - 5:47 pm: Edit Post

What a delighful story. You should write a book or a journal for us to read; it would be fun reading it.

By Mario Garcia (cpe-65-248-212-34.popp.net - on Monday, December 29, 2003 - 5:47 pm: Edit Post

What a delighful story. You should write a book or a journal for us to read; it would be fun reading it.

By Anonymous (bbcache155-75.singnet.com.sg - on Sunday, July 29, 2007 - 8:14 am: Edit Post

Enough, Doreen Meyers. There are many who do just as you have done. Go back to the Philippines whilst Ian Fish of Amex is there so that you can do more to help the people.

marianne pereira

By Anonymous ( on Friday, May 23, 2008 - 2:52 pm: Edit Post

aaaaawww..this story is so heartwarming..however i am still wondering where is doreen as of this moment...is she really coming back to my home town or would it be just another hanging story with no clues where would she been at all???

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