By DEBBIE Y. ACEBU
“EVERYTHING we do begins with stewardship and moves towards community empowerment.” With this in mind, some 20 teams from the Gawad Kalinga will troop to Minglanilla and Talisay where the group would start building houses from March 29 to April 3 this year.
Gawad Kalinga or to give care was organized purportedly as an alternative solution to problems on housing––and as a means to arrest the poverty especially in the countryside.
The Gawad Kalinga’s vision for the Philippines is to make it slum-free, and squatter-free nation through a simple strategy of providing land for the landless, homes for the homeless, food for the hungry––and as a result providing dignity and peace for every Filipino.
The Couples for Christ initiated the project in 1995 aimed at rehabilitating the country’s squatters’ area.
With the help of its partners, the Gawad Kalinga is now in the process of transforming poverty-stricken areas with the goal of building 700,000 homes in 7,000 areas in seven years (2003-2010).
To date, Gawad Kalinga is present in over 900 communities all over the Philippines and other developing countries.
This year, the challenge is to gather “bayanis” (heroes) from all over the Philippines to make a team of 15 members and build a house for five-day stay at the assigned site.
The crucial starting point is the appointment of a caretaker team––a group of volunteers committed to visit the community to educate and train––and more importantly to build mutual relationships with the residents and learn with them.
The hand-holding stage of relationship-building, values formation and skills training is necessary to help the community become independent and sustainable.
GK addresses the root cause of poverty––not simply the absence of money but an absence of shared values, sense of community, and higher purpose.
“As youth of today, we are aware about this crisis that we are facing––poverty. It is time for us to make a move for those who are downtrodden to be given a chance to live a better life,” said Camille Travilla, a student of the University of Philippines-Cebu College and a member of Gawad Kalinga.
An annual Gawad Kalinga Bayani Challenge will also be conducted in Sulu and Zamboanga from April 13-17, 2009. It is an international event wherein teams across the globe are coming over to help build homes.
Gawad Kalinga is more than about building houses for the poorest of the poor. Providing a decent home is just the beginning of the transformation of the people and the community.
For details about Gawad Kalinga, call Gawad Kalinga head for Cebu, Elmer Labatos at 0917-3201-661 or, Paolo Neri at 09064158893.