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Convergence in planting a seed of hope in Talalora, Samar

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The common problem the people of Poblacion 2, Talalora encountered is the dilemma on what they can do to help sustain the basic needs of their family. But when DSWD services and programs such as Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (Pantawid Pamilya), Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) and Kalahi CIDSS reached their place, everything was set to change their lives forever.

It is through SLP that the community earned income through cash for building livelihood asset in the year 2016. They asked their PDO regarding their plans in which they got a support and guide from. Former PDO Raymund Distrajo suggested to them that the 30 per cent salary in their one term be saved to start up a capital for their communal gardening.

The community under the leadership of Clarita Zeta,  started a communal garden in order to provide a long-time endeavor of sustaining the daily needs of the family. The association started September 15, 2016 with 37 members only. They were composed mostly of Kalahi CIDSS volunteers and Pantawid beneficiaries, and all were women. Clarita Zeta, the president, was a former community volunteer.

Towards taking initiative steps

Clarita Zeta led in gathering the interested residents to join the organization. The plans were presented du centerring the initial meeting; first was to register to OCCI and to open an account and save the 30 per cent of their savings to put up a cooperative centered on vegetable farming.

They were able to nominate their officials who were eventually oriented with their functions and roles. They created By-laws; registration fee was Php 50.00 and there were penalties set to those who could not attend meetings, a weekly meeting and a daily rotation of tasking for the operation and maintenance.

The organization asked for the LGU’s support to be recognized by the Sangguniang Bayan. The LGU of Talalora has always been supportive; they received trainings on the enhancement of their skills in handling an organization.

Later, the Womens’ and Farmers’ Association was recognized by the Department of Labor and Employment on April 2017.

Blockage of growing

But like gardening, founding an organization does not promise a bed of roses. They had experienced challenges in managing people and resources.

At first, the inactive involvement of some members was prevalent. Some did not have their commitment to the agreements. Secondly, the land soil was poor making seeds grow slower. Only a few product were harvested and there were from the members of the organization. The small initial income of Php 1, 600.00 they got, was used to buy another sprout of watercress

On overcoming hurdles

Clarita Zeta never stopped encouraging others to put their full commitment. She has witnessed it from Kalahi CIDSS how unity of the community can result to positive outcome. She said, “Amon la hira iguinpapahinumdom nga diri ini kaya han pipira la nga kamot. An pagkakurusa iton an susi han kalampusan ha komunidad. [We used to remind them that we cannot do it by a few hands only. A collective movement is always a key to achieving progress in the community.]

President Zeta and other officials in the organization such as Nelda Rarugal and Adelaida Sabenada, who were formerly Barangay Sub-Project Management Committee chairperson and Project Proposal team member, respectively tried to make a way to seek for the temporary use of a piece of land for their project. They asked for help from a certain judge through its prosecutor to use the former’s land for the gardening. The judge gave a positive response to lend the land for the organization.

From then, because of the rich soil  they have harvested not only a watercress but also ampalaya , okra and eggplant which they sold fresh to the community at lower prices as a response to the train law.

Below is the comparative tabe between prices from their own product and in the market.

Kind of vegetable produced Price from the market Price from the communal gardening
Watercress ( a bunch) Php 10.00 Php 5.00
Okra (10 pieces) Php 10.00 Php 5.00
Eggplant (per kilo) Php 20.00 Php. 10.00
Ampalaya Php 80.00 Php 40.00

The members of the organization can buy their own product at more lower prices.  In addition , the organization has prioritized the Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries for the retail of rice supply. From the income they got from communal gardening, they brought rice supplies in which the Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries sell it to earn income.

Last 2018, they have expanded to 50 members because of its seen success According to Leodefario Sabenada, a former BAC member of Kalahi CIDSS, he can tell that the organization is growing in number because the people can see how much they benefited from gardening.

Aside from that, the gardening motivated the people as a way to promote betterment for their barangay. For example, they prioritized joining PINTAKASI and duty schedule over indulging in gambling activities. Mr. Sabenada added, “I joined this association because I can see the unity of the people.”

The organization’s income also goes to their construction of Green House In August 2018, the association also received another livelihood project- the egg laying. This is because of the good performance the association has shown. The location for this livelihood was given by the LGU as a form of support.  Now the group has been supplying tray of eggs in Talalora for only Php 150.00 they also sell to other nearby towns for a price of Php 170.00.

Continuing the “seed” of Kalahi CIDSS

Kalahi CIDSS program started in their municipality in 2015. Many members of the organization were former Kalahi CIDSS volunteers. They have shared their gratefulness towards the lessons they got from the program.

Nelda Rarugal stated that, “nakabulig gud an amon nakuha nga confidence sa pagkaboluntir sa Kalahi CIDSS pag atubang han mga dagko nga tawo ha amon lugar. [The confidence we gained from being a Community Volunteer has helped us a lot in facing a lot of influential people in our place.] as she pertains to her experience in asking help from the landowner-judge

Adelaida Sabenada shared, “Ha akon na nagging PPT member ako han Kalahi CIDSS nabaro ako paghimo han proposal. Asya nga guin-elect ak nira nga mahimo nga secretary han organisasyon nam kay tungod mayda na ako karanasan han paghimo proposal. [When I was a PPT member, I was accustomed to do proposals. This is the reason why I was elected as the organization’s secretary for my experience.]

They have undergone several skills trainings from the Department of Agriculture. But the different tranings they have attended from Kalahi CIDSS helped them as well how to enhance their skills and knowledge in implementing a particular project.

The organization also encouraged the members of the Integrated Food Production (IFA) to join the Women’s and Farmer’s Association. IFA is an organization where members have malnourished children. Zetaa added, “This is what Kalahi CIDSS taught us to involve other residents to contribute for development.”

Reaping the fruits

The Womens’ and Farmers’ Association reaped the fruits of their compassionate work for their community through the “bayani ka!” awards held last November 22, 2019. The association was awarded under the Gender and Development category for actively promoting gender equality and development in the community from participation to decision-making.

The Bayani Ka! Awards is the annual and highest recognition given by the DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS to its exemplary communities and partners in implementing and promoting the Community-Driven Development (CDD)

Zeta said that they will remain their unity and cooperation because it will keep them move forward with their vision. More than that, she will never forget crucial the role of women in the development of their community. She added, “As a woman, I am happy to influence other women to join activities like what we are doing in the organization,wherein women’s skills and knowledge are recreated.

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