CEBU, THE PHILIPPINES
Seventeen Fellows from fourteen countries, including Malawi and Kazakhstan, arrived in the Philippines to learn about sustainable development work while helping build a community for scavenger families living on a local dumpsite who wanted to start new lives. Fellows also learned an important lesson about the power of friendship in this line of work and made life-long connections. Their Project Challenge was to build a community center in the new village of Compostela. As part of this challenge, the Fellows spent time in Bancal, another rehoused community, in order to understand the particular challenges of a project like this. In Bancal, Fellows worked on construction and produced a play together with forty students at a local school. Fellows visited the DEDON furniture workshop and learned how to weave, explored best practice initiatives—including offering the people leaving the dump opportunities in agriculture, cooperatives, and alternative livelihoods. Fellows also had to address the challenges of contending with the tropical climate, a new culture, and the strain of manual labor, while learning to manage expectations. The project’s Friend was Dr. Heinz Kulüke, a philosopher and social worker who has lived on Cebu for twenty years. In 1999 Dr. Kulüke founded JPIC-IDC, an NGO that helps scavengers, street children, young girls in red light districts, and impoverished fishermen. Dr. Kulüke addressed the importance of hope, the difficulties of community-building, and the immense need for change around the world. Construction began in Compostela in July, and the community center’s inauguration was celebrated on September 25th.