Gawad Kalinga

‘Wrath’ by Eazy360

Village Up! Building Live, Building Lives

Gawad Kalinga is a phenomenon for two reasons. It improves on the American phenomenon of Habitat for Humanity; and it improves the image of the Filipino as a builder not only of houses but more so of lives. That’s creativity at its humanitarian finest.

I have chosen the image above, on the wrath of typhoon Xangsone (Milenyo) visited upon the Sorsogon City Hall to indicate that even when a devastation like that occurs, after a dark night, you can see the morning. ‘Ugly (or sad) and beautiful at the same time,’ says Drive By Shooter (Flickr), and he is right. The image shows both emptiness and fullness of promise. This solid shell of a building will inspire Sorsogon City to rebuild.

What about the not-so-solid shells of houses of the poor not devastated by the typhoon not only in Sorsogon City? Government critics will easily point to those in government and say they have not done enough. What about those not in government, who are millions more: Have they done enough?

In fact, whatever you do for the poor is never enough. But it’s a good idea to start with helping them build their houses and their lives. And that’s what Gawad Kalinga is doing. And that’s what Filipino-American Joel Coronel has been doing. Instead of merely criticizing, he has been putting money where his mouth is. Read his story in the Philippine Star of 7 January carried on Page One, ‘US migrant embraces Gawad Kalinga mission,’ written by Patricia Esteves.

Joel sold his house in the United States so he can help build a village of 50 homes in Baseco, Tondo, Manila. Then he borrowed $50,000 to build more homes, this time in Leyte in Central Philippines.

If you haven’t noticed it already, what is being built is a village, in this case, of 50 homes. Emphasis on village. That’s the reason I say Gawad Kalinga improves on Habitat for Humanity, as GK builds not only houses, not only villages, but also lives.

Patricia describes it:

Each GK village, composed of 30 to 100 poorest of the poor families, is created by volunteer caretakers and the poor themselves through the bayanihan spirit. Recipients of GK housing grants build each other’s homes and peaceful community free of crime and vices, where neighbors know and care for one another. (Bayanihan, literally, heroic, sacrificial)

I say they build live because they, the members of a new village, help each other build those homes, living the days when each one slowly goes up from the dirt. There are today 1,000 GK villages in the country, Patricia says. What she fails to say is that part of the Gawad Kalinga program is to initiate livelihood projects among the residents of these new villages, so they may be able to sustain their lives, even improve them. I know this personally because I know personally those Couples for Christ members who started Gawad Kalinga in Los Baños, when their was no money then to support the program, when they had to bake cakes and cookies to sell to raise funds. So, a smaller bayanihan spirit gave birth to a greater bayanihan spirit.

Homes in a village with social and economic energy, that’s how I can describe Gawad Kalinga in nine words. From empty shells come full lives, with a little help from friends like Joel Coronel.

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Explore posts in the same categories: building houses, building lives, Creativity, economic energy, Gawad Kalinga, Habitat for Humanity, homeless, humanitarian creativity, Joel Coronel, Milenyo, social energy, Sorsogon City

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