Hope and opportunity.
- Nearly a fifth of the population live below the poverty line.
- Three in ten children under the age of five are underweight due to poor nutrition.
- The COVID-19 crisis has affected all aspects of life but especially food insecurity. In May 2020, 4.2 million families reported struggling with involuntary hunger (a doubling since 2019.)
- Research shows that education is one of the best protections against hunger and poverty.
Good Samaritan Sisters have lived in the city of Bacolod on Negros Island in the Philippines for over 25 years. They work alongside and in support of families living in the squatter settlements of Boulevard and Mambuloc and those whose home is on the street.
Most people in Boulevard and Mambuloc live in extreme poverty because of limited access to basic infrastructure and services. Their housing is inadequate and their health levels are poor. The impact of COVID-19 has made life even harder.
The Good Samaritan Sisters provide a Kinder School (pre-school) so children from some of the poorest areas can get a start on their education. 120 children attend each day, in two sessions. The children also receive a meal when they attend – for some this may be their only meal that day.
At the Good Samaritan Outreach Centre, the sisters and their partners deliver a healthy meal for 450 children living in squatter settlements each day, provide scholarships for children to attend school (including books and transport), and provide a daily meal for children in the local orphanage and offer programs for local women including employment and skills development.
In 2018 we commenced a Tertiary Scholarship program for students who have graduated from the Kinder School and gone on to complete high school. The determination and gratitude of these young people is incredibly inspiring!
From 2021, a new Livelihood Assistance program was being offered to families hard hit by Covid 19 lockdowns. This program provides small loans for purchase of the equipment needed to start a small business. So far, 22 families have joined the program. The loans are being used for a range of purposes – from purchase of fishing nets, carpentry tools, weaving materials and two pigs! The loans range from about 5,000– 35,000pp and most are re-paid at a rate of 250pp per week (about $6 AUD.)
Welma J is one of the Livelihood Assistance program recipients. As a result of the lock-downs, Welma’s husband was unable to go to his job as a helper/driver and Welma could not go to her job delivering food to the local orphanage. With both confined to their house, they decided that they would like to re-open the bed weaving business they had run before their children were born. To get started they needed 20,000pp capital, which was provided through the Livelihood Assistance Kit. They are now doing well and paying back 2,000pp a month.