Hand made aprons by Moms and kids in Sulu
BUILDING BRIDGES TO PEACE THROUGH COMMUNITY COOPERATION
Principal Kauzar Ibrahim, Manilop Elementary School, Indanan, Sulu, Philippines
February 27, 2018
This school year of 2017-18 was full of more successes than we could imagine! How did this happen? Well, as the saying goes “Two or many heads are better than one.” We will never succeed if there is only one person willing to stand and do every little thing. It takes full community teamwork to build a bridge from poverty and violence to achieving peace and academic success.
Our community had been plagued by generations of instability and poor quality of health and education. In 2015 we began a remarkable transformation at Manilop Elementary School in Indanan District on Jolo island in the Philippines. From the very start, we emphasized that Manilop community is composed of hard work, cooperation and smiles. Teachers here are hard-working -- whether they’re paid or not. The majority of the teachers here are unpaid volunteers. Luckily we have a supportive and cooperative barangay [village] captain who is always there to understand what we really need. We also have a District Education Supervisor who stands with us.
How do we emphasize this so-called 'cooperation’? It started when the caring and fun loving President of Asia America Initiative Professor Albert Santoli sent us library books, games and artistic equipment for our young students to ease the trauma from what we called the violent Manilop Incident in July 2016. We immediately informed our Barangay Captain and he responded by giving pencils and crayons to make use of those fun books. WOW! That was a good start of our partnership!
Another issue was our Kindergarten Classroom. Without a budget for construction or repairs, our Kindergarten learners were suffering in a small, over-heated bamboo shack. We made a project proposal, solicitations, and contributions from PTCA [Parent – Teachers Cooperative Association] and Prof. AAl sent us 50,000 pesos [1,000 US dollars]. So with our cooperation, a government proposed hundred thousand-peso project was reduced to only half of that. The 50K from “Prof. Al” was matched by the community by our school donating hollow blocks. Ply wood, cements, sand and gravel were donated by concerned friends. Wood and construction materials came from Barangay Captain and what mattered most -- the FREE LABORERS’ FEE. Some women in the community prepared food and meals for the carpenters. That’s the least thing we can do because we could not be able to give money to the carpenters.
During the last quarter of School Year 2016-2017, AAI sponsored the Mass Feeding Program where all of our students were able to eat. That was also a 50-50 partnership program. But rather than letting the child or the parents provide eight pesos to make it 16 we agreed to let them bring veggies, spices, fire woods, water, and most of all, the time and effort they have spent with us during the feeding program.
Just recently, Manilop Primary School was elevated to a full Elementary School, grades Kinder through Six. We therefore needed to have a classroom to cater our Grades 5 and 6 enrollees. As usual, we informed our Barangay Captain, the PTCA and other stakeholders about it. Alhamdulillah we had an immediate positive response. Like before we knocked on our beloved supporter’s heart and “Prof Al” sent us funds for the classroom shack construction. Then, a few days later, Prof. Al sent us a number of armed chairs so that our new fifth and sixth graders can sit comfortably.
Indeed, teamwork really matters. For it is the key to success especially in a school or any other social organization. And now just like other schools in our Indanan South District, Manilop Elementary School, is a school which overcame violence and the lack of basic food and water. This was due to hard work, cooperation and smiles. We are now well-prepared to assist learners achieve their goals in life and serves as a bridges to peace to walk on the right path.
Thank you Asia America Initiative and your donors at GlobalGiving.
Hand washing before lunch
Christian children praying before lunch
Muslim children praying before lunch
Moms cooking lunch at Manilop Elementary
Bamboo school shack built by parents, Manilop
Donated AAI school books to Manilop Elementary