Maco, Compostela Valley – “Their journey is never easy. We want to make them feel safe, loved and protected in the best way that we can because they too, deserve to rise up and have a peaceful life,” shared Elizabeth Uy, Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer here for 27 years now.
She considers her job as one of the most painstaking, yet most fulfilling. In her length of service, she admits she performs more than what is expected of her. She has encountered countless trials in handling people in difficult circumstances.
She consoles, feeds, and assists women and children who are victims of violence and abuse. Since the Local Government Unit of Maco has no center to cater these victims, she and her fellow social workers usually share their homes as temporary shelter of the abused.
“Makabati ko sa ilang mga kasakit ug kahadlok, sa ilahang kawad-an ug paglaom na makuha ang hustisya na ilang ginapangandoy” (I can feel their pain, fear and the hopelessness of obtaining the justice they yearn).
Crunching the numbers
Based on the 2010 census on population, the municipality has 34,603 women and 30,311 children from ages 0 to below 18 years. These sectors are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.
In 2012, 49 women and 35 children in the municipality were reported victims of neglect, abuse and exploitation.
In response to the emerging problem, C.A.R.E.S (Children, Adult Ready Emergency Shelter), a drop-in center, was proposed for the appropriate placement of the victims through KALAHI-CIDSS GPBP (Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Process), formerly BUB or Bottom-Up Budgeting.
KALAHI-CIDSS is a community-driven project of the National Government and implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). It aims to empower ordinary citizens to directly participate in local governance by identifying their own community needs, planning, developing, implementing, managing and sustaining projects together to address local poverty issues.
GPBP on the other hand, is an approach to preparing the budget proposal of national government agencies, considering the development needs of cities/municipalities as identified in their respective Local Poverty Reduction Action Plans (LPRAP) that shall be formulated with strong participation of the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).
The drop-in center project aims to prevent the women and children from being exposed to further exploitation. The end goal is to for the victims to regain self-esteem and dignity through protective and rehabilitative services.
Intensified collaboration and coordination between government and non-government organizations are currently being undertaken in support to achieving the goals of the center.
To build and restore
The building is already 75 per cent complete.
“The drop in center, aside from its goal of ensuring the safety of victims, also provides jobs to beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program,” said Yu.
Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries take the lead in the construction of the drop-in center. To them, it’s self-fulfilling that they are able to participate in the process of providing protection and safety to the victims.
“Kaya ko ang pagbabago dahil iminulat sa akin ng ahensya ng DSWD at ng kanilang mga proyekto na lahat ng mamamayan ay may kakayahan na tumulong sa pagbibigay proteksyon sa mga kabataan at kababaihan na biktima ng karahasan at pang-aabuso,” Yu pointed out.
Now, women and children are more driven to move on. They are now comforted knowing that there are people who take stand to be their support system. Most importantly, they now have a safe haven to stay while they are on the process of healing. (DSWD)