DAVAO City (DSWD XI) – “Ang Kalahi-CIDSS wala mag pili kung graduhan ka ba o walay grado, propesyonal ka man o wala kay nahuman, lumad ka man o bisan asa imong kagikan.  Ang importante nga kanunay kining naghatag og kahigayunan sa pagkat-on aron mapalambo ang kaugalingon ug ang katilingban sa kinatibuk-an (Kalahi-CIDSS doesn’t discriminate whether you are educated or not, professional or not, IP or whatever your origin is. What is important is that it always offers opportunities for one to learn to develop oneself and the community as a whole).”

This was declared by 29 year-old community volunteer Almer A. Sobiaco from Barangay San Antonio, Municipality of Caraga, Davao Oriental, as he confidently faced fellow volunteers and spoke fervently about his Kalahi-CIDSS experience during the recent Kalahi-CIDSS Community Volunteers’ Congress.

The three-day learning conference served as avenue for exchange of relevant learning and experiences from a year-long implementation of community driven development (CDD).

Kalahi-CIDSS or Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services, one of the core programs of DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) aims to empower communities through enhanced participation in local governance and poverty alleviation projects.

Life changing

Every community volunteer has a story to tell. Unfazed by the audience before him, Almer shared how Kalahi-CIDSS changed his life.

Almer is a laborer in a local farm and earns a modest income. He and his wife Cherry Ann, have three children -Alcher, 6; Andrea, 3; and Arvin, 7 months old.

When Kalahi-CIDSS was implemented in Caraga in 2014, Almer was elected as Barangay Sub-Project Management Committee (BSPMC) chairperson.

Almer had lots of doubts and fears that his community might not believe in him. He said he only has a very low level of education and that he lacked experience in formal project management.

Excited but with trepidation, he started convening regular committee meetings to discuss how to smoothly run the program.

Shortly, the community endorsed potable water system as one of their prime needs.

The village had a problem in their water supply and it was affecting their day-to-day existence and their livelihood as well. Making matters worse, some members were not cooperating.

Almer said several people deemed it a hassle at first, to engage in Kalahi-CIDSS. Eventually, there were able to work their differences out and they gradually appreciated the community-based procurement, the transparency feature of the program and the step-by-step skill transfer.

“During the implementation phase, we were dubbed as MEs (Murag Engineer), meaning working and serving as real engineers,” Almer recalled.

“The challenge now is how we are going to carry on the lessons we have learned in the program,” he stressed.

“Magpadayon gihapon kami sa among pagka volunteer bisan pa sa daghang hagit kay mao ra kana ang ikatampo namo sa mapadayunong paglambo sa among barangay. Ug mao kini ang bahandi na mahatag namo sa sunod nga henerasyon. (We will continue to serve as volunteers amidst the many challenges because it’s the only thing we can contribute in sustaining development in our village. This is the treasure we can pass on to the next generation).”

When asked if he will continue advocating the program after the end of implementation, Almer responded with a broad smile, “Yes I will, for it promotes transparency and accountability. I will continue to encourage everyone to join. Every individual is allotted an essential role in the program.”

Caraga has a total budget allocation of P 29,000,000.00 for its first cycle of implementation, covering 17 barangays.

To date, there are 15,658 Kalahi-CIDSS volunteers in Region XI. (DSWD)