Kalahi-CIDSS volunteers receive nat’l awards for community work
Two community volunteers of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) were recently awarded as 2016 National Outstanding Volunteers by the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency at Crowne Plaza Hotel, Quezon City.
Marcelo L. Gusanan, a 42-year-old B’laan leader and farmer from Brgy. Eday, Columbio, Sultan Kudarat, bested nominees of the National Outstanding Volunteers – Adult category for his extensive work as the leader and community volunteer of Kalahi-CIDSS.
Gusanan, in his speech, shared the value volunteering taught him. “Napatunayan ko na hindi sa tribo, hindi sa antas ng edukasyon at pamumuhay ang pagtulong. Ang pag-unlad ay hindi hinihintay, ito ay ipinaglalaban at pinagpapaguran sa pamamagitan ng pagbo-volunteer (My experience proves that helping others has nothing to do with ethnicity, level of education, or way of living. We should not wait for development but instead fight and work for it by volunteering),” he quipped.
The B’laans are an indigenous tribe that lives in Southern Mindanao. In the 2000’s, they were displaced due to armed conflict in their community and were forced to return to burned-down houses and ravaged farms and livestock. Marred by poverty and experiences with organizations that used their names in exchange for aid which never came, the B’laans were hesitant about offered programs that promise help, including Kalahi-CIDSS.
The Kalahi-CIDSS community facilitators went from house to house to encourage the B’laans, including Gusanan, to participate in their own development. In the long and tedious process that followed, the B’laans recognized their collective strength and together learned to prepare proposals and other documents, manage community projects, and encouraged each other amid sacrifices. As a result, they erected using their own hands a potable water system, an 800-sq.m. solar dryer for farmers, and a two-classroom building through Kalahi-CIDSS.
“Naramdaman namin ang aming halaga… ang respeto ng programa sa mga IP (indigenous peoples) dahil sa kauna-unahang pagkakataon ay hinayaan kami ang magdesisyon at magplano kung ano sa tingin namin ang mas nakabubuti sa amin... Kung dati ay halos lumuhod na kami sa iba’t-ibang ahensya para humingi ng tulong, ngayon, maraming mga pribado at ahensya ng gobyerno ang nagdala ng kani-kanilang proyekto, mula sa agrikultura, sa kalusugan, edukasyon, at marami pang serbisyo na dati ay hindi namin nakukuha (We feel that we are valued and respected as an indigenous people because for the first time, they let us decide and plan according to what we know is best for us. Before, we had to plead from the government for help, but now companies and government agencies come to us with their programs which we couldn’t have then such as in agriculture, health, education),” he shared.
Meanwhile, educator and fellow volunteer Ryan H. Homan won the National Outstanding Volunteer-Youth category for his literacy initiatives such as “Balsa Basa”, wherein he fetches children from far-flung sitios in his hometown Donsol, Sorsogon and teaches them how to read onboard a bamboo raft.
“Layunin namin na iangat ang literacy at mapangalagaan ang Inang Kalikasan (Our goal is to improve the literacy rate and protect the environment),” Homan added.
Both Gusanan and Homan were chairpersons of the Barangay Subproject Management Committee, the group comprised of ordinary citizens who manage Kalahi-CIDSS community projects.
Kalahi-CIDSS works by empowering communities in targeted poor and disaster-affected municipalities to identify their own needs, and collectively implement and manage solutions to these needs. This is known as the community-driven development (CDD) approach.
For photos and videos of the winners’ speech, please visit Kalahi-CIDSS’ Facebook page at www.facebook.com/dswdkalahicidss.