Youth volunteers of SERVE, a community service organization based in Ireland, came recently to Cebu and stayed for three weeks in the Bajau community under the care of Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc.’s (RAFI) Bajau Integrated Area Development Project (BIAD-P) in Sitio Puntod, Alaska Mambaling, Cebu City.
During their immersion, SERVE’s three Irish adult leaders and 13 youth assisted in the fabrication of ICEB bricks for the housing quads and in holding classes for preschoolers and the feeding program.
They also shared part of their country’s culture through sports and other interactive activities.
“I find the first day in the Bajau community the highlight of our entire five-week stay in the Philippines. The children warmly welcomed us with smiles. The short program that was organized in the school for us that day was incredible,” Majella, a SERVE volunteer, shared.
“We couldn’t imagine anything more wonderful, and we are so grateful. The heartfelt welcome given to us every day will be always treasured in our hearts,” she added.
SERVE focuses on programs and projects that help marginalized communities in developing countries. It aims to empower children and the youth and recognizes that gender equality is essential to sustainable development. It has 15 partner countries around the world that receive support in terms of funding for development projects or programs, placement of short-term and long-term volunteers, capacity building in the areas of management, finances and accounting, monitoring and evaluation, and child protection.
At present BIAD-P has already started building 33 more housing quads for the Bajau community.
This project component intends to provide better settlements to poor Bajau families. This is anchored to its vision towards making Bajau a self-sufficient, progressive and self-reliant community with sense of pride and belongingness.
This project continues to employ strategies towards transformational development and empowerment of Bajaus. It continues to address and mitigate the effects of poverty such as providing decent housing, parenting support, education programs, assisting families in obtaining health and nutrition information, and supplementary feeding programs. These interventions give young children a chance to build the resiliency and competence they need to break the detrimental cycle of poverty.
BIAD-P was organized by the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) and Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary, together with the Cebu City Government and the University of San Carlos-College of Architecture and Fine Arts, last January 2011.
BIAD-P is under the Integrated Development focus area of RAFI, helping communities overcome the vicious cycle of poverty. RAFI’s other focus areas include Micro-finance & Entrepreneurship, Culture & Heritage, Leadership & Citizenship, and Education.