December 09, 2012

Kirby Simon Grant…A Gift That Continues to Give

A few months ago—I guess it has been almost a year ago—I wrote a blog about us going to Summerfield Cavite to potentially start a sustainable living project there.

This community is about an hour outside of Metro Manila. The families that now live there were relocated there when their homes were destroyed from a river relocation in the Metro Manila area. Many of the women there struggle to support themselves and their families. Some of them have been rescued from the sex slavery industry and were placed here with little or no skills to provide a living. The houses were given to them by the government because they were displaced, at that time they had no water or electricity in them.

Now they have electricity and water two times a day, 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening. As we have found typical of Filipinos, when we went to meet them they were full of life and hope. We decided to submit our grant proposal to the Kirby Simon Foundation to do a sustainable living project in conjunction with DAMPA, an NGO in the Philippines who focus their efforts on helping battered and abused women make their lives better.

Kirby Simon was a Foreign Service Officer that died while serving the United States in that capacity. His family set up a trust fund as a legacy to him so Foreign Service Officers around the world can perform community service in his name. We were excited to hear that we were one of the groups approved for a project.

The check came and we spent the next few months working closely with DAMPA officials, the community of Summerfield and Mayor De Sagun to prepare. Our plan was to purchase sewing machines so the women, who already sew, can produce in mass and create an industry for themselves. Before we purchased the machines we required them to come up with a business plan and we needed to insure there would be a place to place the machines.

Mayor De Sagun ensured that the Livelihood center was renovated and had electricity installed. It was truly a team effort on all sides.
The Livelihood Center before the renovation

The day for turning over the machines finally came. We woke up early to pick up the bouquets that we had ordered (which were MUCH larger than we expected…it filled Boeing to capacity) and we headed down to Summerfield. It was touch and go there for a few minutes because people participating did not show up at the designated hour…but with a few extra calls and one person doing an impromptu speech it all worked out. THANK GOODNESS.

It was a wonderful day. There were children doing a marching band number to welcome all the guests. Several of the women whom will benefit from the project were in the audience and more that anything it was gratifying to see they were so thankful for this opportunity.

Lady Hiva and I, along with our colleagues that submitted the grant with us, are so thankful for DAMPA and people like the Mayor who use their means and influence to better the lives of others who may not be as fortunate. It was a stressful day, but one that when we returned home we all felt full of gratitude and satisfaction.  

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