Mindanao stakeholders unite for the sake of children

Published March 27, 2019, 8:06 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Merlina Hernando-Malipot

In order to help establish an ideal school setting where education and community stakeholders promote and uphold the rights of children, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) unite for child protection in Mindanao.

Conrado & Ladislawa Alcantara Foundation and Consuelo Foundation (MANILA BULLETIN)
Conrado & Ladislawa Alcantara Foundation and Consuelo Foundation (MANILA BULLETIN)

The Conrado & Ladislawa Alcantara Foundation (CLAFI) has partnered with child protection advocate Consuelo Foundation to launch Project “CONSUELO” or Consolidating and Updating Educational Learning Opportunities for Child Protection. This endeavor, which aims to arm children and parents in the battle against child abuse, covers the Sarangani Province and the cities of General Santos, Zamboanga, Iligan, and Davao.

Through this partnership, the two NGOs seek to “establish an ideal school setting where education and community stakeholders promote and uphold the rights of children, enabling a stronger voice for parents and children in this issue, support promoting schools where every child feels protected, loved and nurtured, and is involved in creating a violence-free school.”

“We are very excited to work with CLAFI and tap on their experience in literacy and cultural sensitivity, as we protect and empower children and youth from indigenous communities,” said Consuelo Foundation Managing Director Carmela Andal-Castro.

Consuelo Foundation, entering its third decade of action against child violence, will provide learning materials on child protection, which CLAFI will translate into three languages: Cebuano, Blaan and Maguindanaoan. The project will then be launched and piloted in Regions 9-12, including a Cebuano school, a Maguindanaoan school and 84 Blaan schools in Sarangani Province.

“Teaching Consuelo Foundation’s child protection materials flipchart in local languages that are the children’s mother tongue base enables them to acquire a strong child protection foundation in their first language, grasp basic concepts more easily, and immediately apply the knowledge and skills they gained,” said CLAFI President Cecile Dominguez-Yujuico.

The CLAFI has already been working with the Blaan Indigenous Cultural Community through a USAID-funded program called Flalok, wherein they sought the aid of tribal leaders and Blaan educators in transcribing Flalok stories into books for children. This not only enabled the elders to interact with younger Blaan learners but also help children identify with and participate more actively during lessons.

Through the USAID partnership, CLAFI has integrated themes of child rights and protection in their early childhood reading interventions to 69 Blaan schools in Sarangani from August 2015 to July 2018. They gave 72 Flalok Big storybooks and other educational materials in the Blaan dialect to learners in Grades 1 and 2, including 26 storybooks dealing with the subject matter.

Currently, the CLAFI wants to extend the gains of this project beyond the USAID funding period. The plan is to provide Flalok educational materials discussing child protection to the remaining 15 Blaan schools in Sarangani they have yet to reach.

Furthermore, CLAFI will include a discussion on child rights and protection in the module for their Parent Mentoring Project. This family and community initiative is currently implemented in 48 partner schools in Sarangani Province and in the cities of General Santos, Iligan, Zamboanga, and Davao, conducted by Parent Leaders trained to discuss topics such as child discipline, family planning, and a good husband-wife relationship.

“Through this project, we want to cultivate a culture where children feel safe, supported and nurtured by their families and their communities,” said Dominguez-Yujuico. “We are grateful to Consuelo Foundation for their extending their expertise in child protection programs to communities in Mindanao,” she added.

Meanwhile, Andal-Castro said that the organization stands by its founder, Consuelo Zobel Alger’s vision—to “renew hope for those who have lost it and give hope to those who never had it.” This, she added, is “what we want to inspire in our students for this project, so that they may carry on the hope for a friendlier and safer environment for children around the world.”

The CLAFI is an expression of the Alcantara Group’s continued commitment to Mindanao’s development. To achieve its vision of “bridging communities towards better opportunities, CLAFI seeks to build communities that empower people towards equity and progress in Mindanao, to deliver innovative programs that enable our partner communities to be self-reliant and gain equitable access to quality education, and to nurture the sustainable environment.

The Consuelo Foundation has been active in preventing and ameliorating the abuse and exploitation of children and women and develops programs to help the poor become self-sufficient, treat problems connected to homelessness, and relieve the suffering of those who are physically or emotionally sick by providing medical services.