Marko Kašić, A Croat From Knin Trapped in Philippines Raises €50K For Country’s Poorest

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© Fundlife
Fundlife's COVID-19 response volunteers, organised by Marko Kašić from Knin
Fundlife's COVID-19 response volunteers, organised by Marko Kašić from Knin

July 10, 2020 – Marko Kašić a Croat From Knin, trapped in the Philippines for four months by a COVID-19 travel ban, puts his time to good use. 

Nothing to do, nowhere to go, nobody to see. Even with the world (online) at their fingertips, some people met the strictest period of Coronavirus lockdown with negativity that bordered on despair. But, the response depended on your attitude.

Of course, some people had it worse than others. Now stranded in the Philippines for four months because of the country’s COVID-19 travel ban, you couldn’t say Marko Kašić had it easier than anyone. Over 10, 000 kilometres from home and family, he might have had more of a reason to despair than most. But, that never happened. Instead, Marko spent his time raising over €50, 000 to help the country’s poorest.

Marko Kašić, a Croat from Knin at work in the Philippines © Fundlife

Having first visited the Philippines almost a decade ago, Marko is more than familiar with the country. In 2014 he set up the Fundlife NGO there to promote sports – specifically football – to underprivileged children. He even has a girlfriend there. It was while visiting her in Manila for Valentine’s Day in February that he got trapped.

After the romantic day was finished, Marko decided to take a short internal plane ride over to Cebu, on one of the archipelago’s other islands, to check up on his sports projects. Then Coronavirus hit. The country went into lockdown with a strict travel ban. He could neither travel back to Europe nor to his girlfriend in Manila.

Even in a country infamous for the huge disparity between its rich and poor, Cebu, where Marko is trapped, is one of the most impoverished areas. Over 40% (800,000 people) of its residents are informal workers, with ‘no work, no pay’ contracts and no social services to rely on for help. When there is work, such people work for an average of €3 per day. But, because of Coronavirus, all of the work stopped.

“Even before COVID, they were just able to survive by having this small daily income,” Marko told TCN. “When the lockdown started, it was clear they would struggle to have enough food.”

Marko realised he had to do something for these people, simply because nobody else was. The bloody Drug War instigated by the country’s President Duterte has been the biggest international news story about the Philippines since 2016. Fundraising, charity and NGO work for the country’s poorest has suffered as a direct result. But, Marko hit up all of the contacts he’d made for help. He has raised over €50, 000 to help feed the country’s poorest, taken on many volunteers to help distribute food and changed his sporting NGO into the largest volunteer-led humanitarian response to COVID-19 in the Philippines.

Some of Marko’s volunteers at work for Fundlife’s COVID-19 response © Fundlife

Perhaps it is the years Marko spent living in the UK that prompted his positive response to the situation he found himself in? But, in his compassion, his Croatian heart is clearly visible. Born in Knin, Marko’s NGO has already helped over 60,000 children in the Philippines and even took some to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia as part of the FIFA Foundation Festival. European football organisations are among the financial supporters of the NGO.

Asked about his plans for the immediate future – whether he will fly back to Manila, to his girlfriend, or back home to Europe – Marko has no answer. The country is still on lockdown. He still cannot travel. And, besides, there’s still so much work there to do.

“I might not even have a girlfriend anymore,” Marko told TCN, perhaps only half-joking. “I told her I’d be back in a week, but it’s been four months. I hope she understands.”

To learn more about the work FundLife is doing in the Philippines or to support their relief efforts, you can visit or email [email protected]


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