PPF e-Kamustahan: Growing together despite the distance

While the world tries to battle a pandemic, our peace fellows rose up to the call- whether through working in the frontlines or planting vegetables in the backyard.

Equal Access International Philippines conducted a series of PPF e-Kamustahan sessions with the first cohort of Peace Promotion Fellows (PPF) all over Mindanao. The online kamustahan served as a venue for fellows to reconnect and to update each other with their recent activities despite the pandemic. 

The first session was done on May 15, 2020 while the second session was on May 30, 2020. 

Sessions started with quick updates from fellows in Siargao up to Tawi-tawi. They excitedly shared how they have been coping with the strict quarantine measures and the new normal in their localities.

Two peace fellows were assigned as sharers for every session. Each had 10 minutes to talk about new lessons, insights and reflections they had during the quarantine period.

Jetro Resonar, a local youth development staff from the municipal government of Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental, who is directly involved in the implementation of the Social Amelioration Program in their community shared lessons he received while working in the frontlines.

He expressed that it was physically and emotionally draining since the people are demanding that the cash assistance be turned-over immediately. He needed to work on the weekends and even until the wee hours of the next day just to ensure that everything is in the right place. Despite these challenges, Jetro shared that he learned the beauty of gratitude – how a simple thank you from a person in the community can motivate him to work harder and to provide the extra mile of service.  

Lo Ivan Castillon who is directly working with the Bangsamoro Government expressed the viewpoints of those who were asked to work from home. Lo shared how he made use of managing his schedules within the day to learn about dish gardening, vegetable gardening and maintaining an aquarium while spending the bulk of his time working.

Fellows pose for an online groufie after the e-Kamustahan session.

These updates solicited amazed reactions from other fellows as Lo showed photos of pretty plants arranged in small dishes and vegetables growing straight from his backyard. Lo reflected that during the pandemic, we need to stop comparing how others cope with the crisis and focus on ways that we can improve our own mental well-being. This may be through planting, feeding fish, doing art or just taking some “zone-out” moments.

During the second e-Kamustahan, Julienne Joven from HelpFromHome PH shared about how they started an online movement that allowed people to help while they were inside their homes. She reassured the fellows that it is necessary to always put the community first and to ask when they need help. 

EAI-PH Country Director Salic Sharief shared how the work of the peace fellows in their various social media campaigns on COVID-19 has received positive feedback from the EAI offices worldwide. He encouraged them to continue finding for the good and the opportunities that are opening during this historic moment in our society.  

Equal Access International-Philippines continues to highlight the positive role of the youth of Mindanao in bringing in innovation and development in their communities./Adam Anay, EAI-PH

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