Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sleepless in Taliba

By Jason Schwartzman,
Director of Program Development

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

My brother is a journalist, and he's sleeping on the sofa of an unemployed family living in the Midwest on an assignment to profile one family's plight in order to comprehend the economic meltdown impacting all of our American lives. In a brotherly coincidence, I'm sleeping on a wooden bed, under mosquito netting, the lone portable fan in the house sweeping over me, in my host family's home, in an effort to understand how CCF's programs are affecting a community that we are working with.

Having grown up in a city, I thought roosters crowed at the break of day, but I've learned that actually, here in a rural village in the Philippines, they crow all night long. I'm thinking about the family who is so graciously hosting me, and I realize that they see me personally as a potential source of economic support, and they appreciate CCF for already being such a support. They are not selfish, but their interest is with their own, and more specifically, with the education of the four girls that range from 5 to 14 years old. That's what they want, and if I were them, I'd want the same.

But I'm not them. I work in the Global Program Group at CCF, and we exist to develop programs that reach large groups of children, the intent of which is to address the conditions that lead to poverty. We focus on health and nutrition, early childhood development, schools and the quality of their education, on providing leadership opportunities for young people, and helping them transition into adult roles and responsibilities. I'm accustomed to thinking about groups and what happens to those groups over time.

Are children as a group becoming healthier and more prepared for school? Are children learning how to read and are they developing a curiosity about the world around them? Do they approach life with ambition and hope for the future? To accomplish these things, we strive to invest in programs that support all children in a community. It seems odd to say this, but I'm more focused on groups than the individuals, but here, on this cool evening, the individuals have invited me into their home and told me what they want.

Can newborn children in this rural village face a brighter future as a result of CCF's programs? I thought back to the afternoon when one of the village leaders, the Baranguay Captain, told me that what is needed is good leaders. I reached for my cell phone, working even here, and texted my brother to see if he was feeling optimistic.

Coming soon: Before Jason delivers his reflection on his Philippines’ trip, a workshop facilitator offers his thoughts about building a foundation for our programs.

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