Visit to Edmund Rice Ministries Foundation Philippines
In November, Naidi travelled to visit the projects of the Edmund Rice Ministries Foundation Philippines (ERMFP), which are supported by ERD. While in Cebu City, she had the opportunity to see the Compassionate Education for Building and Uplifting Families project in action. This project supports families that live in the city’s cemeteries and on the sidewalks. An award-winning nutrition programme has been set up with the families to teach them about nutrition, cooking methods, and budgeting, and provides a meal a day for the children attending school. In addition, the team also trains the families on urban gardening and life skills, and they carry out a trash for cash programme. The team works tirelessly to help beneficiaries attain their legal documents and get them on T-VET courses. These courses can be anything from housekeeping and cosmetics, to IT and culinary skills. Once enroled, the team accompanies each of the beneficiaries through their educational journey and helps them secure an internship to gain work experience. The project has been a great success with beneficiaries reporting improvements in many aspects of their lives.
Naidi’s visit included two more projects that serve the Sama Badjao community in Bato, Leyte. Only a week before her arrival, the area was struck by Typhoon Paeng and a flash flood devastated the area. Everyone had been evacuated with just one hour’s warning. 48 houses were completely destroyed, but luckily everyone survived. Naidi and the team spent several days visiting the Sama Badjao community, reviewing the damage and preparing an emergency funding application. The Sama Badjao community are known as the sea gypsies of the Philippines; their whole way of life is strongly tied to the sea. Because they live in stilted houses in the water, the provision of emergency tents was not a feasible solution for this community. Fortunately Misean Cara have agreed to fund the rebuilding of 20 traditional houses in a culturally sensitive response to this emergency.
The importance of the Mangrove Project became ever more evident following this disaster. The project’s aim is to increase biodiversity and reinforce mangrove habitats as a natural response system to combat the effects of climate change. Although 5,000 mangrove propagules were washed away, 600 seedlings survived. In years to come, the mangrove will provide this community protection from increasing extreme weather. During her visit, Naidi met the Sama Badjao Women’s Association. The project team have worked hard to establish and support this Association. They have helped them gain a platform to advocate on their own behalf, ensuring the voice of this marginalised indigenous group is heard. Naidi also had the opportunity to meet the ERMFP Board of Directors and Management Team. We would like to thank the local project team, particularly Butch Salera, Josefa Pizon and Dominic Carangue, and the wider Philippines projects for hosting Naidi during her visit.