Saturday, February 16, 2008
PhotoHunt 97/4: Free
A fluttering flag. A fist raised in defiance.
These would be among the first, the standard imagery evoked by free. But I guess what trumps these two is what I placed above- kids, all smiles, in their playful best, full of candor with nary a care in the world. Choose any kid, and s/he would be a perfect candidate for freedom personified.
But these Filipino kids are more free than most of their peers because they now have a home of their own. They reside in the colorful homes behind them, a result of a massive development program in the Philippines called Gawad Kalinga (which translated to English is Give Care).
Gawad Kalinga or GK is an integrated area development program which aims to alleviate poverty in the Philippines by mobilizing the spirit of generosity and heroism among Filipinos and foreigners alike. Roughly equivalent to the established Habitat for Humanity, GK has community organizing, shelter, health, education, environment, livelihood, child and youth development, and values formation components to make it a holistic approach to development. The program aims to build 700,000 homes in 7,000 communities in 7 years- given the level of poverty we have to contend with in the Philippines. Over the last four years of the program, GK and its partners have built about 2,000 villages with some 30-60 homes per villages in almost all provinces in the Philippines, including villages in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.
The residents of the villages help themselves by putting in sweat equity- clocking in and average of 200 hours of labor building their neighbors’ homes. However, they are not alone: students, doctors, factory workers, expats, yuppies, overseas Filipino workers, CEO’s have donated their time and energy to haul bricks and paint homes; teach art and math; conduct health lectures and treat patients; plant trees and grow vegetables to make the residents and their village regain their dignity as human beings.
Erstwhile slums- like the area where the homes above are built on in BASECO in Tondo, Manila- are being transformed into oases where anyone and everyone can now hope, dream-
And be free.
You can learn more about Gawad Kalinga here and from its official website.