True to its promise, the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Region IX immensely embraced the core values of Maagap at Mapagkalingang Serbisyo through provision of extensive community based services to the poor Sama Bajau communities in Zamboanga City. Amid vulnerabilities for not having formal education and feeling of being underprivileged citizens in the communities, the DSWD has taken its way to open doors to capacitate the households and engage them in various activities that will strengthen not only of their trust in the government services but will also exposure to land based livelihood and cash for work activities. The birth of Comprehensive Program for Sama Bajau has improved not only their way of living but also the perception of people towards them. The importance and contribution they’ve started is a testament of their desire not only to wave their enriching culture and tribe but also a manifestation of pushing themselves to have an improved lives.
In the year 2014, The NCIP has registered 388 households and 1,923 indigent families purely Sama Bajau in Zamboanga City. Common livelihood were related to aqua marine activities such as fishing, agar-agar farming, sea shell collection along the shorelines of Sangali, Zamboanga City. It is in the Year 2014 when the Cash for Work project under the Comprehensive Program for Sama Bajaus was introduced in the community. With proper coordination with City Social Welfare Office, Barangay Local Government Unit, the program gained positive support where the implementation and provision of lot for the Communal Corn crop gardening were granted with authority and approval. Through the help and support of its Tribal Leader, the identification of eligible beneficiaries came very much easy for the project implementers to conduct community assemblies and orientation for the project implementation. The participation in the project was indeed a strong move in providing them another avenue to experience land based livelihood for their families. These will enable them to maximize their potentials to adapt their livelihood activities in the community where they resides amid being tagged as Sea Gypsies.
One hundred fifty one beneficiaries were involved in the Communal Corn Crop Gardening located in the adjacent lot near the Barangay Hall of Sangali. The 500sq meter was provided by Barangay Official of Sangali for the beneficiares to engage into Agri-Farm technology. These beneficiaries were grouped into 10 with respective leaders to check the daily attendance of the participants.
A total of 339,960 compensated the 151 beneficiaries amounting to 2,250 pesos each for 15 days. This will enable them to augment their actual income and produce crops in time of harvest. True enough how the beneficiaries can truly benefit from the skills they have acquired and from the income they can earn from all their hard work and involvement in the project. The project has not only enriched the existing traditions they have but also it improved their relationships among members of the tribe. The empowerment process has given everyone an opportunity to capacitate themselves and contribute in the community. The program itself embraced the compassionate care for the indigenous people whose lives were challenged by generations and has been vulnerable in the intergenerational cycle of their poverty experiences. Indeed their productivity has never been compromised amid contrast on their livelihood environment. Other interventions under the program were also given such as Livelihood and Educational Assistance covering 280 and 804 beneficiaries respectively.
With all of these, we can see how beneficiaries can be productive when given the right opportunities and interventions. The program will soon be replicated in areas where Sama-Bajau communities are many. Members of the households on the other hand can take part in the implementation as well. The future of each of everyone are indeed securely fastened by time, where everyone share common goals and aspirations together in development and when everyone “Seas the Change.”