CFs: Si Anna, si Ronnie, at Marami Pa Sila
(Lifted from the book “Safe, Resilient Communities: The ACCORD Model”, published by Accord Inc., 2011)
In 2007, eight women – mostly mothers – assembled in the ACCORD office that fateful June morning for the first-ever training for community facilitators in Saint Bernard. It was unforgettable. Of the 25 individuals invited, only eight showed up.
They all looked a bit unsure and quiet after realizing there were only eight of them. Most of those who backed-out had issues regarding honorarium which they claimed was a customary practice of other NGOs but which was not the case for ACCORD. When the project staff decided to push through with the training, despite the majority backing out, the remaining eight stayed throughout the 5-day training. They were all women – a grandmother, two teachers, a church worker, a barangay nutrition volunteer, a daycare worker, a community member, and a college student. Seven were mothers who stuck it out till the last day. Four years later, of the eight, six stayed on and are still active in varying levels. The other two are still around but not as active. Of the six, two stood out to become more than what was expected of them.
Anna was one of them, 46 years old, mother of five and a daycare worker for 20 years. She was one of the more ebullient trainees-CFs. She would giggle every time she mispronounced some words and was so unsure of herself during her first practice-teaching experience.
Today, Anna can discuss almost all of the sessions of the different training modules of ACCORD. She has gained confidence by using good examples from the community’s experience to clearly explain DRR concepts. She has also helped translate to Bisaya the session plans. Now, her name is synonymous to “DRR expert” in her barangay.
She’s not all that, she has also gone places. Anna is part of the training team in Saint Bernard who would go out of their way to conduct DRR trainings in the island of Limasawa. Through her and other CFs, Saint Bernard has replicated the ACCORD project within its municipality. The same is true with other municipalities which requested assistance for DRR.
In June this year, she attended a Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)-UNICEF regional training in Bacolod. The training focused on RA 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, climate change adaptation, supervising and managing children affected by disasters. In that conference, she was regarded as a DRR community advocate and a resource person on community-based DRR. Among other daycare workers in the whole province of Southern Leyte and in her community, she was the one asked to help the DSWD in re-echoing the conference on DRR.
She strongly believes that the ACCORD project needs to expand other barangays and other municipalities because people need help to reduce their vulnerabilities against frequent hazards. She knows of neighbouring municipalities who know nothing of DRR but also want to learn. When she was informed that the project can no longer be extended, she took the challenge of taking the task of replicating and sharing the ACCORD experience.
She said she has learned so much from her involvement with the project, and the experience has changed her as a person. Because she has gained so much knowledge and experience from the project, she feels it is also her obligation to share this through trainings which she believes can change lives for the better.
Ronnie, mother of two and former barangay nutrition volunteer, was also one of those who stayed. Though known as the silent one, she exuded the strength of a woman one can rely on. She demonstrated how much she is willing to contribute for a cause. She was one of four barangay nutrition volunteers, with all four sharing the P450/month honorarium for the position of nutrition specialist. But she was replaced as a nutrition volunteer in December 2010 by their Barangay Captain allegedly due to political differences.
During her first practice-teaching, she stood in front like a block of ice-cold and stiff. She could not stop crying during the first training, as she remembered the deadly Guinsaugon landslide which she fears might happen again anytime.
From then on, Ronnie has learned so much by helping conduct training in different barangays. She said that knowing about the situation has helped her overcome her fears, realizing that the community can do something to reduce its vulnerabilities.
Today she thinks that being a CF has made her somewhat of a community organizer. She has taken it upon herself to continuously be of service to her kababaryos by explaining and helping them understand what she has learned about DRR. She feels the need for them to understand DRR and so has helped in translating the training modules to Bisaya.
Ronnie looks at herself as a community educator. She willingly and tirelessly shares everything that she has learned from the project through the conduct of training courses in their municipality, going as far as the municipality of Limasawa.
Ronnie and Anna, and many more of their kind in the different project areas, are among those who have selflessly devoted time and effort to be part of the journey to change the lives of other equally poor people in vulnerable communities. Ronnie is happy that she can serve her community through DRR; earlier, she thought she had to be a nutrition volunteer to be able to serve. She sums up the idea of what they as CFs have become by saying they have served as ‘tulay’ or bridges of the project to their communities. Now it’s time to help build more bridges so that other communities like Limasawa can become more resilient.