One wet Saturday last March, Resque Abra, was one of a group of fifteen young people made up of KI 6th Batch volunteers and some members of an Interfaith volunteering group LYPAD-Min who journeyed to Barangay Putadon, a small remote community of the municipality of Nunungan, Lanao del Norte, to conduct their outreach program targeting less fortunate children. The program aimed to reach out to more than 300 deprived children with a feeding program and to teach them and their parents about personal hygiene and environmental sanitation. Barangay Putadon was chosen as it is a very remote place, journeys are by truck and are only three times a week.
Resque, a graduate in International Relations, began his placement with the Municipality of Nunungan in September 2010. In his role as a project assistant, he helps the local Government in developing Nunungan as a model municipality. This involves projects on Bio- Energy, Alternative Livelihood, Good Governance and Eco-Tourism. Resque liaised with the Mayor and his co-volunteers, making most of the arrangements for this activity; the events program, transportation, accommodation and food.
The travel to Putadon was very challenging. After a three and a half hour journey to the municipality of Lala, it took another three hours via a one-way rocky and bumpy mountain road in a 6x6 army truck. On the way, the truck got a flat tire and the heavy rain made the road nearly impassable. Finally they reached there after 6 and a half hours. The group then stayed overnight in Putadon, in order to prepare for the activity the next day.
The community was so accommodating and they voluntarily helped in preparing the whole event. The first activities with the children were lots of group games including a spelling contest. Then there was singing and dancing in connection to theme of hygiene awareness e.g. “sampong mga karapatan” which is a song that talks about the ten rights of a child. The highlight of the program was the distribution of personal hygiene kits for over 300 children. This brought big smiles to the children and their parents since it was their first time to experience such an activity due to the difficulty in access to the community. Resque commented “Its only the KI volunteers who dare to take hold of the challenge to reach the place. The children were really blissful and feel some specialty that day because of making them feed, play and imparted knowledge they can use on their daily lives”.
Everybody also enjoyed the feeding activity (a salo-salo, ‘eating together’) which was held in a ‘boodle fight’ style lunch (a military style of eating where foods are on top of the banana leaves lined on a long mat) . The Mayor, Hon. Atty. Abdul Malik Manamparan remarked “thank you KI volunteers for reaching my place, to conduct your program here, you are all very much welcome, it will be a big help to a lot of children here in Nunungan. We are happy to see youths like you who are concerned about the children”
After the program, Resque reflected “through my volunteering, I have learned that the achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual. You can help a child to learn, smile and be fed”.
The activity was held with the support of Kapamagogopa Incorporated and Australian Government through Australian Embassy, and in coordination with LGU-Nunungan and Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology: Department of Extension
Fahad Ali first encountered KI at the 2009 Interfaith Youth Summer Peace Camp. He then became an active member of the Board of Lanao Youth for Peace and Development in Mindanao (LYPAD-Min), a youth organization promoting interfaith dialogue across the two Lanao provinces formed as a result of the Peace Camp.
In 2010, Fahad successfully applied to be one of the 6th Batch of KI volunteer and was placed in Kalimudan Foundation Inc (KFI). He volunteered with KI because he was eager to experience community works, explore new things and make new friends since according to him, his way of living in Marawi City was isolated.
He was assigned as a Program Support Staff of KFI. In the first few months of his placement, he has been an event’s organizer, a facilitator, a documentor and hygiene promoter. He has also been able to utilize his Agricultural Engineering degree since one of his roles is to assist in KFI’s agricultural programs e.g. designing green houses for their sustainable resource management project, Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (SALT) training for the communities, micro finance project, and tree planting.
Fahad remarked that he felt fulfillment for being involved in the activities of the organization because he was able to share his knowledge and skills to the community especially to other youth. He’s also very happy that he was able to help the people in the community to become aware and concerned on their environment and children learned to do proper hygiene. Through volunteering, he was also able to broaden his horizon and learned not to judge people by their position and practices in life instead, we have to understand their culture and history.
He is very motivated to do volunteering works especially for peace and development because according to him “as a young Muslim, there is a need for me to volunteer, be the voice, and be a good example to Muslim youth. We have to be concerned and vigilant of what is happening on our society. Let us be part of the solution and not a problem in our society."
KI volunteer Nabilah is currently serving as a Hygiene Promoter, educating children and parents, in rural communities in Lanao del Norte, on personal hygiene. This involves Proper Hand Washing and using and maintaining latrines.
Nabilah remarked, she enjoyed facilitating the community training workshop “The topics were very sensitive, in the promoter’s guide there are questions that you have to rephrase for it to not sound offending e.g. “Who among you here who do not take a bath?” I had to throw jokes to remove tension in discussing very sensitive topics i.e. latrines, personal hygiene, etc. I can say that the participants had fun, they were very participative, and they asked questions a lot especially on the topic of how they can avoid common illnesses. The participants were comfortable with the discussions because I used the native maranao language, and also because I am a Maranao like them”. She expressed her fulfilment towards conducting community trainings, and that she’s comfortable in working with the community.
The project is a partnership of Mindanao Emergency Response Network (MERN), Save the Children, and UNICEF.
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Lanao del Norte