Monday, May 4, 2009

Immersing Ourselves in the Community

By Jason Schwartzman,
Director of Program Development

Note: This is the sixth entry from Jason’s trip to the Philippines.

At 7:30 a.m., our group set out for the Taliba community where we would spend the day; each of us would then spend overnight with a host family. Our group represents Sri Lanka, India, Timor L'Este, Indonesia, the Philippines and the United States. Joining us were a number of young people from the area, who gently but firmly led us through the day.

Our group was breaking out of our hotel meeting room where we had been discussing our common challenges in living up to a set of programming principles, such as reaching vulnerable families through programs that support the positive development of children, by marrying a community's felt "ownership" over "their" programs for "their" children with the best program designs that the technical research and literature has to offer.

I was anxious to meet the family who would be taking me into their home, and I was wondering what their home looked like – where would I sleep; what food would they serve; would they like me; would I like them? But first, we had the day to talk to many different people and learn about what is important to them. Here are some of those people.

This is a parent volunteer. She hosted one of my colleagues at her home that night. She said that her 9-year-old boy spends too much time with friends and not enough time on school studies – that's the biggest challenge he faces. She had a great laugh.

Here's a member of the Baganguay Council – a village level leadership committee. He served in the Gulf War. There was an incident with an explosion and as a result, he's now hard of hearing. He felt that the biggest challenge facing a teenager these days is the declining economy.

This is a grandmother with her daughter's 2-year-old son. The daughter was working on this morning. She was very concerned that her grandson to become educated and not face the hardships that she faced growing up.

This mother's son is almost 2 years old. Her biggest concern is that he suffers from fevers regularly, and she's not sure why. Just talking about it was very emotional and visible as she teared up during our conversation.

This mother was very concerned for her daughter because she's 4 years old and is not yet talking. She has a hearing problem.

This dad is with his mother and his 1-year-old son. They all looked very much alike! He wants his baby to get a good education and have good health.

This is the local village leader, known as the Baranguay Captain, and he heads up the Baranguay Council. He's 79 years old, and liked to crack jokes. When I asked him what the biggest challenge a baby boy being born these days would face in his life, he told me it was "good leadership." The boy will need to have good leaders.

I nodded. Very true.

Coming soon: Spending the night with a family in the Philippines, plus a post from another CCF staff member attending the workshop.

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