High in the uplands of the municipality of General Tinio, Philippines, there is a small community called Pulang Lupa, it was there that I met Lucy as she was picking beans from her crops. Continuing to work, she told me about the life of her family and others in this part of the region.
“Life is hard for those living down in the lowlands but here in the uplands we are trying to grow crops on land that nobody else wants to work on, it is very difficult. We are able to plant and grow vegetables during the wet season when there is plenty of rain but during the dry season we can’t grow anything.” Lucy explains. “We are able to eat enough food when there are crops but it is very difficult between February and May. We can only just survive, all the extra money we make from the vegetables pays for a small amount of food during the dry season, nothing else.”
Lucy continues to talk about how her children’s future is limited. “We cannot afford to send them to a good school so they will probably have to work in the same way we do. I want so much more for my children, they deserve better.”
I asked her if there is a solution to their problem.
“Yes. Our main problem is that we cannot retain water for our crops during the dry season, it washes down to the lowlands and leaves the soil dry. Our group has identified an area where we could have a small reservoir to retain the water throughout the year. We have been given an estimate of how much it will cost, it should be around 200,000 pesos ($5,000). This would also include the pumps which would be needed to irrigate the land.”
I asked Lucy how many people in Pulang Lupa would benefit from the reservoir.
“There are about 40 families in the community and all of them should benefit. If we are able to produce a second crop each year, that means we will each earn an extra 60,000 pesos each ($1,400). If we could achieve this it would totally transform our lives! We could afford to have three meals a day, all year round. We could send our children to school so they could get a good education and find a good job. We may even be able to afford a motorcycle for us to take our vegetables to the market.”
Having seen the conditions in which they were living I could envision the dramatic impact the reservoir would make.
Lucy went on to tell me how her very small community of Pulang Lupa (meaning – red soil) had heard about the way Outreach International helped in the village of Sibug further down in the valley. Lucy and others from the group asked the villagers of Sibug how to achieve the same results they had experienced over the last few years in pulling themselves out of poverty. Sibug then became the facilitators to start Pulang Lupa’s own journey out of poverty.
“As a group we are going to visit the mayors office in a few weeks’ time to ask for assistance from the local government. We have never had the confidence to speak to officials like this before but we are now prepared and will do our best.
I left Pulang Lupa hoping so much that they would achieve their dreams of a better future.
After a few weeks, I received a message from Liezl Parungao, one of our facilitators in General Tinio –
“Here is some fantastic news! Just now I received a call from Duardo, one of the leaders you met in the mountains. The project proposal they submitted to the mayor today was approved for two water impounding systems and the mayor is interested to make it a pilot project!!!”
Of course, this is a massive achievement for Pulang Lupa but we also feel this is a resounding success for the process we use at Outreach International. We have been working in Sibug for a few years now, it’s so good to see them passing on their knowledge to neighboring communities, this is true sustainable good in action!