Empowering the Sama-Badjao Community in Bato Leyte, Philippines
Widely known as the “Sea Gypsies,” the Sama-Badjao tribe is one of the many ethnic groups of the Philippines. One of the largest populations of Badjaos in the Philippines can be found in Dolho, Bato Leyte where there are 109 Badjao households comprising a total of 658 people (as of a 2016 survey). The Sama-Badjao community living in Bato Leyte has experienced inequality, discrimination and high unemployment rates, which has led to high rates of poverty in the area.
Edmund Rice Ministries Philippines developed a project to address the challenges facing this community. They started by conducting a participatory assessment as to the real living conditions of the community. All 109 heads of the families were interviewed, where it was concluded that access to sanitation, clean water and improved livelihoods would make a real impact in the area.
The project was developed aiming to build the capacity and reduce the vulnerability of Sama-Badjao women in particular, through the creation of community groups. So far, 50 women have participated in these groups where they have been educated on their basic human rights in addition to attending sessions on gender and development, Family-based Education and Values-Formation, and the Indigenous People’s Rights Act. This group has also formed a livelihoods working group. This will help generate income for the Sama-Badjao women, as currently many are excluded from society and are forced to beg in the street. This project also developed a WASH programme to improve access to clean water and sanitation in the community. The Sama-Badjao community in Dolho had only one toilet facility, which was donated by the Department of Social Welfare and Development. Additionally, there were low levels of health education, so many were not taught about the value of using the toilet and the importance of hygiene. So far, this project has educated 386 members of the Sama-Badjao community on sanitation, solid waste management techniques and proper hygiene practices. They also have received hygiene kits quarterly. Six more toilets have been installed in strategic locations in the community, as 97.25% of the households do not have a toilet.
"We are very thankful to Edmund Rice Ministries for really looking out for the Sama-Badjao people. The interventions and activities we've participated in helped us to gain confidence and be comfortable of who we are. Although discrimination still exists from the wider community... we will persevere." -Sama-Badjao Women's Association President, Vanesa Sabrani
This is just the first step in educating and empowering the Sama-Badjao community in Bato Leyte. Thanks to Misean Cara for funding this project, which will continue through 2020. We look forward to seeing the ongoing progress made in the community!