The town of Pulong Visaya, Philippines, used to be ignored and looked down upon.
Ninety-nine percent of the residents were landless farm workers living in houses made of cogon grass and sawali (woven bamboo mats), whose daily income from field work ranged from $1.28-2.56. Families could double or triple their income – but only if they had enough children or family members participating in the field work. Even then, the income generated was often not enough to provide for basic needs like food, clothing and medicine.
Sending children to school or giving them nutritious food for healthy bodies and minds was a luxury.
That all began to change in 2006, when facilitation by Outreach Philippines resulted in 54 concerned parents forming a community group around these issues. Chief among their priorities was their children’s health, safety, school readiness, and their futures.
I know that together we can achieve healthy, happy and bright children.
Fast-Forward to 2015
In the years since, the organizational structure established by the Samahang Bagong Pag-asa sa Pulong Visaya (SBPPV) group has enabled the community to sustain its activities far beyond Outreach Philippines’ active presence there. The Day Care Center and feeding program which began in 2014, is one such achievement, which serves as a monument of success for the SBPPV group. The school and daycare workers are recognized by the local government and the social welfare and development office, which has given them access to resources such as school supplies, hygiene kits, educational equipment, and teacher trainings, among other benefits and services.
The SBPPV group is also one among a handful of civil society organizations that sit on the government-organized Local Poverty Reduction Action Team. This is a civil society and government partnership for bottom-up development planning and budgeting for the larger area of General Natividad. These linkages with individuals and other institutions for daycare project promotion and resource-accessing has also mobilized additional resources from national and international organizations.
Looking Toward the Future
Best of all, residents have reason to be proud of their efforts and of the difference they have made in the lives of children in the community. Michelle, President of the newly-formed Parent-Teacher Association, shares, “I know that together we can achieve healthy, happy and bright children. For in just one week since my three-year-old started Daycare in 2015, I am already observing improvements. He became independent in eating, practices good sanitation habits, is conscious of nutrition, and regularly tells us what they did in the center. He is excited about their daily activities, and this inspires my husband and me. I’m already thinking of things to discuss in our PTA meeting that will benefit the center. We have more to work on together, but I know from experience that by starting with one, more will follow.”