May 7 2009

A duet in the Philippines

Blog and video by Paul Pearce, director of international programs department

On a recent visit to our programs in the Philippines, I was invited to spend the afternoon with a group of sponsored aging persons in the Antipolo project. The program organizes sponsored members into small groups called ìKapitbahayanî (neighbor in the Filipino language).

The groups of 15 to 20 members meet regularly, and this afternoon was one of such Kapitbahayan meetings held in the ruins of a small, uncompleted building.

The meetings are a source of camaraderie, support and planning among the sponsored members. They share with each other how things are going in their home life, study scriptures and coordinate project activities.

During the meeting, I asked if they have recreation or talent development activities. That’s when the smiles really emerged on these beautiful faces. Wenceslao quickly stood and said that he would like to sing out of great gratitude to his sponsor and the CFCA program. CFCA staff member Nell joins him as a duet part way through the popular and historic song.

I was now immersed in Filipino pride, beauty and spirit through song. Many in attendance took turns singing. They had turned this ramshackle, tattered shell of a building into a fine concert hall and given our meeting its wings.

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Apr 22 2009

‘Clean and Green’ in the Philippines

By Malou Navio, Antipolo project coordinator

Caring for the communal gardens.Project staff and CFCA families in the Antipolo project respond to the call to care for our Mother Earth by caring for our local environment through a program we call Clean and Green.

Clean and Green enhances CFCA sponsorship for our sponsored individuals and their families.

The Antipolo project uses ongoing training, lectures and discussion to incorporate Clean and Green into spirituality and way of life and to encourage families to consider the ecosystem.

As CFCA farming families learn irrigation methods for rice paddies and corn growing, more and more are gradually shifting away from the kaingin (slash and burn) way of farming. The families in urban areas promote waste management by reducing, reusing and recycling.

To reinforce this practice, we do not use disposable cups, plates or utensils; plastic wrappers; straws; and Styrofoam during our activities.

Our sponsored children, youth, their parents and the aging in kapitbahayans (small, caring communities) devote one to two hours every Saturday morning to cleaning up their surroundings, streets, canals and rivers. This contributes to disaster risk reduction.

Kapitbahayans grow plants and flowers in easement lots and open spaces to improve their communities. They cultivate these spaces for communal gardens of vegetables and medicinal plants. They can also share the harvest with neighbors.

A tree-planting activity takes place yearly. Most families plant the seeds from the fruits they eat. Many sponsored aging friends love this activity.

Though they say they may not witness the fruition of the trees they have planted, for them it is their gesture toward repaying the food they eat without the effort of growing it.

We have planted and nurtured thousands of trees. The ages of these trees range from younger than one year to more than 10 years old.

They are growing in backyards, along the roads, rivers, in the parks, open spaces, foothills, watershed and shores in the communities served by our three subprojects.

Fifteen sponsored youth leaders with parent advisers are graduates of a comprehensive training on holistic environmental education. This training discussed inner- and outer-ecology, and cosmic ecology.

They also learned about the making of bokashi balls (click here to read more about bokashi balls), an indigenous technology of effective micro-organisms that eliminates harmful bacteria from fresh waters. They facilitate the same training on weekends with the sponsored youth, children, mothers and fathers group leaders.

Earth Day parade, 2008

Earth Day parade, 2008

The Earth Day celebration is one of the most important events of the year for us.

This year, the families will celebrate Earth Day with a parade around the town or barangays (neighborhoods), and then they will watch a film and attend workshops on environmental concerns and climate change.

The fathers group, with CFCA families in the communities of Angono, will celebrate Earth Day with a parade around the town and will launch their commitment and initiatives to heal the dying Angono River. They made 14,000 bokashi balls to drop into the Angono River to help heal the river and its species.

In our little way, we can radiate to each other, to the children, youth, aging and families, our dedication to care for the environment and our special love for Mother Earth.

Happy Earth Day!

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