Mangyan refers to the eight indigenous tribes inhabiting the island of Mindoro, each with its own culture and language, with members predominantly employed in agriculture, hunting and gathering, and wage labor. One tribe, the Iraya, is an extremely impoverished and socially marginalized group. Having been pushed away from their ancestral lands has dramatically changed their way of life. Instead of being able to subsist solely by fishing, hunting, and gathering, many of them have been pushed to the streets to beg and to try and sell baskets and other trinkets. Culturally, the Irayas are not as concerned with cleanliness and hygiene as lowlanders are. Therefore, when the Irayas are in town selling or begging, they are seen as dirty, which then carries a connotation of them not being intelligent. Besides having an overall attitude of ‘lesser than’ towards the Irayas, lowlanders often blame them for local crime. The Irayas easily become the scapegoats of the community.
For over 20 years now, SFI has been reaching out to the local Irayas in Puerto Galera in an effort to help uplift the community from poverty and to help mitigate the discrimination against them. In 2009, SFI purchased 10 hectares of land in one of the Iraya communities called Baclayan. During the time of purchase, we observed a community that was struggling on many levels. We conducted a community needs assessment to see if and how we might be able to partner with the community in creating positive and sustainable change. The results of the needs assessment showed a community in need of food security, and an elementary school in need of educational materials, school supplies, infrastructure repair, and a place to play and engage in sports activities. Given the results of the needs assessment, we began working with the community leadership to develop a 3-year community development project plan.
Our overall vision is to break the perpetual cycle of poverty amongst the Irayas, eliminate discrimination towards the people, and mitigate teen marriages and early pregnancies; all through a sustainable and environmentally sound community development plan.
Goals, Objectives and Strategies
Goal One: To improve on the local elementary school students’ academic performance and equip them with knowledge, skills and confidence to become competitive in their continued education beyond elementary level.
Objectives and Strategies:
- To help develop and sustain an elementary school with the capacity to offer a healthy and appealing learning environment for the students with high daily student attendance.
- To provide the necessary materials and equipment for the teachers to effectively teach the children.
- To develop a sustainable feeding program, which will provide a nutritious meal for the children in order to enhance their health and their ability to focus and learn in the classroom.
- To build a small kitchen and storage room for the feeding program.
- To utilize volunteers among parents to do the daily food preparation.
Goal Two: To eradicate the practices of slash and burn farming and illegal logging, and to secure feasible alternative ways for the community to obtain a sustainable food production and income.
Objectives and Strategies:
- To develop a sustainable organic farm that yields nutritious foods for the local school feeding program and for SFI residential home.
- To encourage, train and subsidize community members to have their own kitchen garden with a variety of vegetables and root crops.
- To partner with the local Baclayan community to work the farm, to train other community partners, and to effectively grow, market, and sell cash crops as a means of livelihood.
- To serve as a model farm for the community and a learning center on sustainable agriculture.
- To promote biodiversity as a means to ecological balance.
Objectives and Strategies:
- To build a sports facility that will be utilized by the local school children, community youth, and the Baclayan community as a whole.
- To teach the children a variety of sports by offering sports clinics and recommending physical education classes at school.
- To establish sports leagues for the local boys and girls in the community.
- To capacitate the community parents by training them to coach the children and to referee the sports leagues.
- To use the sports facility as a central place for training other local communities in playing sports, coaching and refereeing.
Goal Four: An organized community development program that allows the community to learn and have fun together, and allows for meaningful interactions with other groups and cultures.
Objectives and Strategies:
- To build a multi-purpose community meeting room that can be utilized to host livelihood training, life skills sessions, information sharing sessions and community celebrations.
- To build a dormitory that volunteers, staff and visitors can stay in, providing opportunities for cultural exchange.
- Hosting youth camps for exposure and to generate income to help financially support the programs.
- Running a volunteer program that attracts local and international talent, helping to run and sustain the programs.
Project Strategy and Expected Outcomes
For the project as a whole, SFI is focused on integrating community stakeholders in all aspects of the project, including planning, decision-making, monitoring and evaluation, and management, in order to help with sustainability. We are communicating to the community members that SFI will be initiating each program component, and will be capacitating community members with the tools to help run, manage, and eventually take over much of the project, making it their own.
Our first priority for the project is food security for the school children and eventually for the community at large. For the school children, we will utilize the organic farm to help provide fresh vegetables and fruits for the school feeding program. We expect the following output from the feeding program: an increase in school attendance; increased capacity for learning; higher grades; an increase in height and weight to age appropriate levels; and overall healthier children, exhibiting fewer illnesses.
We will also continue to work on providing the necessary supplies, materials, and training support for the teachers and children at the school. Through the support of our Community Development Officer and volunteers, we will work on ways to promote the understanding within the community that education is the foundation on which to alleviate poverty. For the teaching staff, we will engage in summer teacher training activities, will help to further develop the current curriculum, and will work on boosting their morale. Our intent is to help the school become a place where children enjoy coming to learn, without having to worry about food, safety, and lack of basic supplies.
In addition to providing for the school, we will use the organic farm to help with the issue of food security for the community as a whole. We plan on training several community members on each aspect of organic farming. On a smaller scale, we plan to capacitate families to grow their own organic kitchen garden, anticipating an outcome of increased nutrition and wellness within each family unit. We expect many families to have a fully functioning organic garden within the first year of the project.
As the larger organic farm grows in capacity and yield, we will need to hire additional community members to help manage the farm. With the eventual introduction of cash crops, organic poultry and swine, and other organic products such as fertilizer and vermiculture, we expect a higher level of livelihood and economic opportunities for community members. By increasing economic security for the community via ecologically and environmentally sound organic farming practices, we intend to eliminate the practices of slash and burn farming and illegal logging. In addition, we will eventually use the farm as a model farm, teaching other communities and partners the basics of organic farming.
Along with our effort to create an environment in which food security is not an all dominating issue, we plan to address the lack of organized physical activities with the Community Sports Program. The program will include components such as physical education in school, scheduled game playing activities, facilitation of sports workshops, and the creation of sports leagues. Expected outcome for the children include improved self confidence, motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and stronger muscles and bones. They will learn about leadership, teamwork, and sportsmanship. As the sports leagues grow and expand to include other local communities, we expect the inter-mingling of Iraya children and lowlander children to help bridge the gap of current misunderstanding between the two groups.
As part of the infrastructure plans for the sports facility, we will build a multi-purpose community learning centre. This will be a place for the community to meet for life skills sessions, for community project / activity planning, and for celebrations. Within our own programming at Stairway Foundation, we already have an established curriculum for teaching children about children’s rights, about child sexual abuse and exploitation prevention, about gender sensitivity, and about environmental protection. We will also develop a curriculum of personality and values development sessions, life skills sessions, exposure activities, health education, etc. We will engage the children in community activities that will help to improve their immediate surroundings, will teach leadership skills, and will teach future livelihood skills. Ultimately, with the opportunity for increased community interactions, we expect community members to build stronger relationships with each other, resulting in higher levels of group identity and cultural pride.
In addition to having increased levels of interaction within the community, our project plans include increased levels of interaction with outsiders. Between our Volunteer Program and our planned Youth for Change Camps, there will be many opportunities for cross-cultural exchange. Having interactions with other children and young adults will give the Iraya children an opportunity to learn from others, as well as to teach and share with others. As outsiders show an interest in learning about the Iraya culture, the children will gain confidence in themselves as individuals and as part of a greater group. In learning about other cultures, the children will have a chance to understand the similarities and differences between a variety of cultures, perhaps showing them that one culture is not ‘better’ than another – just different.
The Volunteer Program and Youth for Change Camps will also bring in a source of revenue for the Baclayan Project, ensuring financial stability and sustainability. Also, with a continuous stream of volunteers coming in to help provide labor, knowledge sharing, and consultation, the project will maintain a level of freshness to it. This will ensure that the children of Baclayan will continue to receive the benefits of the project for years to come. With a successful project, we believe that the Baclayan community will be a model community for other local Irayas to learn from and emulate.
Our projected budget for April 2011 through May 2012 is 1,825,000 pesos or $42,425. The breakdown per project component is as follows:
- Elementary school - $13,615
- Purchase of school supplies and materials
- Building a kitchen
- Purchase of kitchen supplies
- Feeding program: daily food and milk supplements
- Organic farm - $10,810
- Purchase of planting materials, organic swine and poultry
- Building a plant nursery, fencing, and structures for pigs and poultry
- Salary for local indigenous farm workers
- General infrastructure (dormitory for camps and volunteers) - $18,000
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You can send funds through bank deposit or bank transfer. See banking information below.
Banco De Oro
Account Name: Stairway Foundation Inc.
Bank Name: Banco de Oro UN Avenue – Philamlife Branch
G/F Philamlife -UN Avenue Building, United Nations Avenue, Manila, Philippines
SWIFT : BNORPHMM
Account Number : 303 940 631 978 (EURO Account)
Account Number : 103 940 623 347 (USD Account)
Account Number : 394 0591 216 (Peso Account)