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A foundation of dreams

At age 19, Abdulmajid believes it’s never too late to pursue a dream. Standing tall among the rest of the grade six students in Panganuran, he knew things are bound to get better.

Like many others who came before him, education in their place was limited to a certain level, this is primarily because of lack of structures and facilities in school. Panganuran, a coastal barangay used to have only three classrooms to accommodate students from grade one to grade five. In addition to that, whenever the barangay officials see the need to conduct meetings and assemblies, classes are being cut. Teachers have no choice but to send their students home early. This interruption has been a frequent visitor to students, since the barangay does not have a legitimate structure of their own then.

In effect, students as much as they want to finish elementary had no choice but to stop attending school soon after they reach grade five. Or others lose interest to even attend their classes considering the inconveniences they’re facing in Panganuran.

This has been the case of Abdulmajid Jahasan Tungayun, who had stopped school for five years. “Mahirap po, kasi dati yung mga bata nag-aaral dito grade 1 hanggang grade 5 lang, tapos konti yung room, tatlo lang”, he shared, (Its hard, back then the school could accommodate students from grade 1 to grade 5 only, the rooms are limited, just three).

Although he had a choice to continue his studies at the municipal proper, but knowing how much it will cost his parents to send him for school, it was neither an option.

“Yung nanay at tatay ko po magsasaka lang sila, nagtatanim ng mais at mga gulay. Sapat lang yung sa pagkain naming ng tatlong beses sa isang araw”, he added, (My mother and father were farmers, and we plant corn and vegetables. These are just enough for our meal three times a day).

“Mahirap talaga ang buhay dito, walang mabilhan ng bigas, pupunta pa kami sa Sibuco para magbili. Pag malakas ang alon, maglakad na lang kame. Karamihan naman sa tao dito naglalakad lang, meron naman kalsada”, Abdulmajid opens up about their daily lives in Panganuran before.

(Life is really hard around here; we have nowhere to buy rice. Should we need a supply, we have to travel to Sibuco, the municipal proper. When the tide is high, we’ll walk our way to the proper. People here are used to walking since the road is fine).

Farming and fishing is the main source of income for the majority, but these aren’t enough for the community. Rice and other goods runs out of stock everytime, and it’s a burden on them to look for it downtown.

The distance from Panganuran to Sibuco proper is about 30 to 45 minutes if one has to travel through the sea which is way faster than by land.  But tide hasn’t been friendly to them at times, and due to financial constraints, they’ll have to take on the long cut.

Walking usually takes them almost half a-day to reach town. That would only mean they’ll have to stay the day out to gather enough goods they’ll need to last until the next trip.

In 2014, KC-PAMANA was introduced in the Municipality of Sibuco, Zamboanga del Norte to include Barangay Panganuran. The community welcomed the program’s initiative with a positive response most especially from parents with gradeschool children.

“Bilang yun talaga ang kulang sa amin, school talaga ang pinili namin na maging project”, Dina S. Sahid recalled the days when they were starting for KC-PAMANA. (Since this is what we’re missing here, school was then chosen as project). Dina was also a pantawid beneficiary with two kids and was the BSPMC Chair.

Relating her experiences with enthusiasm, she said “exciting kasi nabigyan ako ng opportunity na makatulong sa kapwa ko Maganda rin kasi natutunan ko na dapat magtulungan, kung may problema dapat magkaisa, tapos pag activity dapat mag-share share ang lahat, magcoordinate, mag-attend ng meeting, wag mag-away-away. Para sa akin, nabigyan ako ng experience, na dati nahihiya makipag-halubilo, ngayon kaya ko na”. (It was exciting because I was given an opportunity to help others. It’s good that I learned the importance of helping, if there’s a problem we have to be united, and whenever there’s an activity everybody has to go out and share, to coordinate, attend meetings and promote peace. For me it’s the experience, I’m too shy and I don’t mingle with others, but now I’m confident).  

DSC02562Noran was also a pantawid beneficiary with four kids and was an active volunteer for KC-PAMANA. “Yung proyekto binibigay nila nagustuhan ko talaga lalung-lalo napo yung school building, kailangan na kailangan talaga yun dito. Kasi mahirap ba kung sa Sibuco pa o sa Labuan manirahan at mag-aral ang mga bata namin tapos nandito ang hanap-buhay namin, may konting kabigatan pa ba”, she cried.

(We really appreciated the projects they gave us especially the school building, it was really needed here. Because it would be burdensome for us to send our kids to Sibuco or to Labuan to stay and study there while our livelihood rests here).

Abdulmajid also witnessed the coming of the program in their barangay, as a student, he couldn’t contain his joy towards the outcome of the projects. Given priority the education in the community meant really big for them.

“Nakahinto ako bale limang taon, tapos ngayon nag-aral ako ulit ng grade 6. Kasama si bunso ngayon nag-aaral, siya ay grade seven. Ako din po yung tumatanggap ng tulong galing sa pantawid, kapag nakatanggap kami bale pinangbibili ko ng mga gamit namin, ng bag, papel, notebook”, he revealed.

(I stopped school for five years, but I am continuing my studies in grade 6 now. Together with our youngest, currently in grade seven. We are also a pantawid beneficiaries, and everytime we receive the cash assistance, I immediately buy things for school like bag, paper and notebook).

Noting the changes after the completion of the 1 unit, 1 classroom pre-school building, “malaking pagbabago talaga nung nagkaroon ng bagong building dito, excited yung mga bata kasi may bagong room, tapos nadagdagan pa yung room. Malaking tulong talaga ito sa mga bata”.

(A lot had changed with the completion of the school building, kids were really excited to utilize the newly constructed classroom, and then they constructed additional room. It’s really a big help to the kids”).

As soon as the PAMANA building was built, the Local Government Unit also donated another building and repaired the old structure to complement the program.

The community was also grateful to the program particularly the parents since they’ve noticed the positive changes brought by the program.

DSC02559“Dati kasi may kulang talaga, nahihirapan kami mag-hanap ng pera. Dati ilang lang yung classroom naming, Ngayon, nadivide na sila, tapos nadagdagan na din yung classroom, hindi na sila crowded”, Dina shared.

(What we have before was not enough, it’s very difficult to make a living. Before we only have few classrooms. But now, they were equally divided with the additional classrooms. They’re no longer crowded).

What’s more rewarding to the parents is to see how they’re children learn not just in academics but in other aspect of life as well. They’re happy to share their kids learning proper hygiene, since sanitation is also one of the issues they have.

“Dahil may CR na ang pamana classroom, yung mga bata namin tinuturuan na sila ngayon mag-gamit ng CR. Nagpapasalamat kami dahil nabigyan kami ng project na malaking tulong talaga sa mga bata”, she further stressed.

(Since the PAMANA classroom has its own toilet room, the children were taught how to use it. We were very thankful that we’re given a project which is a big help to our kids).

Lastly, Dina and Noran shared their hopes to see their children finish their studies. The same goes for Abdulmajid, no hope lost despite the many challenges along the way.#

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