In January 2008 my wife Janice and I were speaking at a number of leadership conferences in the Philippines. Whilst in an isolated rural area on the island of Mindanao, Jan collapsed and was diagnosed with brain tumors. While in the hospital there, she spoke the following words to me “I am not afraid to die but I am afraid to live and not fulfill what is in my heart”.
We had been visiting this region for more than 12 years and Jan and I were passionate about helping bring change to communities. Jan”s next question was “What can we do now Ian? We cannot wait any longer”.
In that room the vision that would become Noble Endeavours was born. Jan lost her battle with cancer in March 2010 and in the last few months of her life she talked a lot about what legacy would remain after she had passed on and whether our efforts would continue to affect peoples lives for good after we have gone. Jan left this earth with the knowledge that what we had already started in the village of Sandongan Central Mindanao would continue to grow and prosper.
“Life just seems to make more sense when our dreams, visions and goals are bigger than us.”
– Ian McKay, CEO, Noble Endeavours
In the Beginning
The project in Datu Sundungan was birthed out of personal tragedy, but even with all the problems associated in getting started during Jan’s illness, her legacy continues to change lives. These Ancestral Domain lands of Central Mindanao are recognized as some of the most marginalised and poorest communities in the Philippines.i
The most often asked question of me is Why Mindanao? and Why that Community?I really think that the community and the region found us because I asked the question Where is the greatest need and how can we help. ?
In January 2008 while Jan lay in San Pedro Hospital, Davao I visited the isolated indigenous community of Datu Sundungan and saw first hand the extreme poverty facing the people living there. Many families were so poor that they could not even afford to send their children to school with resulting high rates of illiteracy, malnutrition and infant mortality. Public schooling as provided by the government still requires that pupils provide many of the resources needed so for a large section of the community it is impossible to even think about sending your children to school.
So what would become the Janice McKay Community Centre began very simply with a school for 40 indigenous children drawn from the poorest families in the area. One teacher was employed and classes began under the trees and in a small dirt floored, slab walled building. When the decision to start the school was made Jan and I had no guaranteed means of supporting it financially ourselves, but from the beginning we knew this was something that made perfect sense in light of the circumstances… I hope you will join us on this life changing journey