EAI-PH alum launches peace project providing community-based psychosocial support in Zamboanga City

With the ongoing global pandemic placing grassroots communities vulnerable, IYoudahan launches the Seeds of Hope project for the youth of Barangay Kasanyangan, Zamboanga City by creating community-based psychosocial support and learning sessions.

In the hopes of cultivating peace for the orphaned children of Barangay Kasanyangan in Zamboanga City, EAI-PH alumni and Olive Peace Prize Winner Jaime Salva launched the Seeds of Hope project last September 13.

The Seeds of Hope Project is a multi-phase initiative aimed to provide efficient psychosocial support of children through learning kits as well as assistance for them at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic with hygiene kits containing alcohol, face masks, face shields, and other materials.

“In order to find healing and be an avenue of bringing hope to the grassroots community, the team wanted to create a sense of awareness to the community of their current situation and how opportunities would come to reach these grassroots communities,” said Salva.

The project started out with an online call for donations to buy the materials for the learning and hygiene kits. This is also used to co-finance the project’s start-up fund of P25,000 which Salva won as a winner of EAI-PH’s Olive Peace Prize awarded early this year during the OURmindaNOW Summit in Cagayan de Oro City.

Following that, the project team did a community visit and ocular inspection in the area of implementation, where they also did a consultation and needs assessment with some of the community leaders.

Believing that sanitation is essential prior to project launch for the safety and well-being of the target community, their team also did a general cleaning and sanitation on the project site prior to the actual psychosocial sessions.

Psychosocial sessions

The project officially kicked off with its first wave out of four psychosocial support sessions last September 19. In every wave, these young orphans were given learning kits to aid them in their education. Aside from that, hygiene kits were also distributed to emphasize the importance of health and sanitation. The kids were also immersed in various activities and sessions.

Various activities were participated by these children. One of the activities was the story-telling where moral values were also inculcated.

There was also health and sanitation for the children where they were taught the basics of hand hygiene, proper wearing of masks and face shields, and tips on how to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. For spiritual support, Islamic discussions through a form of storytelling were also done by the team.

Salva’s defining factor of calling the project a success is when he saw that it was already the parents of these children who decided to bring them to the venue.

During the first wave of the project, only a few children have attended since some members of the community have been traumatized by some organizations who asked them to sign papers and promised them help but to no avail.

“It was really hard to gain back the trust of these people,” he said.

During the first engagement of the IYouDahan team with the community, the people were hesitant to engage with them. After a series of engagements together with the youth leaders that the team invited, it resulted in a fruitful connection and interaction to the extent when some of the people would reach out to them and share their stories which the team found as very heartwarming.

The parents of the children were beyond thankful for the success of the project. They have considered this project as a safe space for their children to learn something fruitful amidst the emergence of the pandemic. It reached a point where the parents would also participate in the activities with their children.

Promoting positive messages of peace

This project is a campaign under Salva’s iYouDahan, a youth-led campaign aiming to promote awareness of mental health through positive messages and meaningful inspirational stories.

The campaign hopes for audiences to appreciate their abilities to cope with ordinary pressures in their lives and motivate them to work in a productive and fruitful manner and empower them to commit to their communities.

“IYouDahan” is a play of the local term “ayuda” which means help in english. According to Salva, it also stems from the concept of “You and I working together, hand-in-hand, to slowly make a difference in our society”.  

Its mission is to be an avenue that fosters greater understanding and an upright solution in breaking free from the stigmas creeping in and breaking in society Following the success of the project, the team is now planning to teach the children about urban farming. This is made to enable the children to see a feasible activity which they can apply to their households. As part of the sustainable development, IYouDahan plans to renovate and expand the learning center in the grassroots communities that would be used for future engagements with the volunteers and wish to support those communities.

Story written by Aaliyah P. Asum, Development Communication Student, Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan

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