“Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.”
Every need requires a response for it to be addressed.
Cardena Cubelo Pegte, 36, knew just how badly Barangay Binga in Mainit, Surigao del Norte needed access to even the most basic services and facilities, having lived in the village almost all her life. She did not want her children to experience the same problems she had when she was growing up.
That is why she did not hesitate when Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS), one of the core anti-poverty programs of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) entered their community early this year, having heard of the promising outputs of the Project.
Eventually, the flagship anti-poverty program, which uses the Community Driven Development (CDD) approach, provided a silver lining in the community’s dream to have a concrete road.
CDD is an approach that empowers ordinary citizens through encouraging them to participate in local governance. They will be given the opportunity to identify and articulate their own community needs, plan, develop, implement, manage and sustain projects together to address local poverty issues.
Even though the villagers identified a number of social services needed by their locality, they chose and prioritized the concrete road considering that this Project will benefit not only a few but all the residents in Binga.
Being one of those Filipinos who believe that poverty will be eradicated in the country someday, Cardena actively engaged in the transformation process introduced and initiated by Kalahi-CIDSS in their barangay.
She attended all the assemblies and trainings and she eventually presented herself as a volunteer. With the trust of her fellow community volunteers, she was chosen to be the chairperson of the Barangay Sub-Project Management Committee (BSPMC), which entailed overseeing the over-all implementation of the project.
“One thing that inspired me to pursue the Project is that I saw it as a great need of my barangay as well as my family,” Cardena said when asked about her motivation in joining as a volunteer in Kalahi-CIDSS.
Odds in the way
Of course, realizing a sub-project wasn’t that easy a task to fulfill.
Cardena recalled that heavy rains befell the construction of the road. While the supplies were procured on time, the villagers felt dismay when the weather turned foul, leading to large and heavy trucks carrying sand and gravel for the road construction being stranded along the uphill path. However, due to the muddy roads, these were unable to reach the community. The villagers keenly felt the irony of the situation: the very problem they wanted to address is the same barricade that they must hurdle to solve it.
To add to the problem, some of the members of the Project Implementation Team (PIT) became sick because of the bad weather conditions, leading to their absence. Even so, only a few settled as passive community people, knowing that the huge obstacle that the barangay faced equaled their big hope that they will finish the sub-project within the time frame given to them.
“I strived hard to pursue the sub-project with my family in mind. I strongly believe that they and the other families in the village will be able to benefit from this,” Cardena shared, her tone emotional as she recalled the hardships they encountered during the process of realizing the sub-project.
Even though the wheels of the trucks were embedded deeply in the mud, the villagers nonetheless were able to find solutions. The active volunteers, mostly women, personally dug and transported gravel from the river, four (4) kilometers near the road construction area.
Cardena’s role was vital throughout this.
“Serving as the chairperson of BSPMC is not an easy role to play. I had the challenge to be a role model to my fellow volunteers. I attended all the meetings and assemblies and those experiences helped me to build my confidence. Also, I tried my very best to encourage the villagers to be united in this cause because I believe that all of us can benefit the Project.” she reflected.
“There is always fruit in very labor and hard work. I strongly believe and can attest to that,” Cardena added.
Reaping what they’ve sown
The entire barangay, which is composed of ninety (90) households, benefited from the concrete road sub-project. Even during its construction, there were already some residents who were able to benefit from this. A number of its residents, most of whom are Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program beneficiaries, got paid for working since the Project of Kalahi-CIDSS encourages the members of the community to be the ones to work for their sub-project to be completed.
The construction of the road also enabled the residents, most of whom are farmers, from bringing home more money to their families.
“The transportation of our coconut products as well as other farm products, which is our main source of income, to the downtown is now easier. The fare we spend for transportation also lessened because the rugged terrains can be crossed more easily,” added Cardena.
Something that lingers
With the intervention of Kalahi-CIDSS in their barangay, Cardena and her fellow volunteers realized that they themselves could implement a Project that they all needed, they all addressed and hand-in-hand, they all implemented.
The concrete road is an embodiment of all the hardships that the volunteers went through. This sub-project is an epitome of the dreams and bayanihan efforts of the community people. The concrete road will always remind them that unity can cause a great impact and that dreams, despite the odds, can come true. ###(Eunice G. Montaos/Social Marketing Unit/DSWD Caraga)