Community Resilience Begins with Individual Empowerment
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05 December 2018 Community Resilience Begins with Individual Empowerment

The province of Ifugao in the Philippines is renowned for its beauty: historic rice terraces, homeland of Indigenous Peoples, picturesque mountains and rainbow-hued waterfalls. But life in all this beauty isn’t easy for everyone.

Australian Volunteers Marie-Carine Cesar and Lydia Jovero are placed in Ifugao on assignments that focus on support in the areas of creation of sustainable livelihood and building of community resilience.

“What I like about being a volunteer is that I get to go down to grass root level, seeing and experiencing the sides of local communities that are not open to the ‘general public’. I get to be part of them, and them part of me,” says Marie-Carine Cesar, who is on an 8-month assignment as Enterprise Development Officer with the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Lamut.

As Carine explains, community resilience begins with individual empowerment. “It is fundamental in our work that we treat people with dignity. I keep saying to my local counterparts, ‘for us, it’s a project but for them, it’s their whole life’,”she says.

Carine is supporting the local staff to develop a framework in managing enterprise projects of the LGU. She is helping the Planning and Development Office strengthen their skills in project management and most importantly – give them the confidence to facilitate discussion and consultation with community stakeholders, from farmers to housewives to schoold and local government.

Drawing upon her experience in the marketing field in Australia, Lydia Jovero applied to become a Marketing Capacity Builder with the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO). For the past six months, Lydia has been working with her colleagues at the Federation of Persons With Disabilities in Ifugao (FPWDI) and supporting them improve their capacity in livelihood and enterprise development.

Lydia developed income-generating projects for PWDs in the Province. She trained each individual, livelihood project identification and business planning. To date, PWDs are into jewelry making, soft-broom production and culinary arts. Their products are also now for export.

“PWDs are very skilled: it’s about giving access, creating opportunities and developing their confidence to facilitate their project,” Lydia says.

---Article from Australian Embassy in the Philippines

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