PART 2 of 2 what made Gawad Kalinga become very popular and effective?
There are many factors that have contributed to the dramatic rise of GK. Let me capsulate some of the reasons why GK has become a symbol of hope of eradicating poverty by 2024, one village at a time.
Most GK Villages are a joint effort of several organizations/leaders who sincerely want a radical change to uplift the poor to become useful citizens of the community. GK, the catalyst, invites compassionate local leaders, cooperative local government public officials and seeks land donor with the objective of building a village in that community or town. The process of finding the worthy and deserving poor among so many homeless, landless and sometimes underemployed or unemployed people, is both challenging and daunting. Many poor families “disqualify” themselves along the way, as many are not willing and capable of completing the Values Formation Seminars required, as well as the tenacity to give hundreds of volunteer labor hours to Gawad Kalinga Village build-up.
When the GK house is given to the deserving family, however, their human dignity is regained, and their self-respect rises, commencing the long process to self-independence and economic freedom. The heads of families metamorphose into becoming more responsible and begin to dream better things for their families. After a couple of years, one can see profound and significant transformation of most beneficiary families: their self esteem is up, their children becoming more sociable and more enthusiastic to go to school, and they work harder to keep improving their economic and financial status. Some eventually leave their small house and move up to a bigger house and the family will never be homeless again.
For Gawad Kalinga advocates like this writer, it is very heartening to witness that in a few years, the “poor” family is transformed into “middle class,” where a son or daughter goes to high school or college, have a more stable job, and sometimes even have a economy car to be more mobile and thereby eligible for higher income jobs and or to engage in a small business activity.
To paraphrase Dr. Jose V. Abueva, the 16th president of the University of the Philippines, Gawad Kalinga mirrors the values, stellar work ethic and vision of Tony Meloto. Meloto, who is a “transforming” leader whose conscious and determined fusion of his religious faith and his secular idealism, combines God’s teaching to love and help the poor among us with secular vision of building a just and human society in which all enjoy their human rights through good citizenship, and a good leader and good governance. It is also a practical Alliance of Businesses with the community, churches, and colleges for the common good!
In my brief comments last July 21 during blessing and turnover of housing units in GK Laoac Namnama Village II, I prayerfully spoke the need to dream and work collectively for a better tomorrow. But it takes a village to uplift a village. The poor needs a lending hand but no one can gather the produce, nor cook, chew and swallow the food for them! The more fortunate, “richer” members of society must also increase their daring, sharing and caring more. When the economic high tide occurs, all boats in the community must also rise. The “Walang Iwanan” (No one is left behind) motto of Gawad Kalinga says it all! As Christians we must not only believe what Christ admonishes us to do (Matthew 25) but to live out our faith through deeds and action. In an ideal world, it is possible to eliminate poverty among us when every citizen starts practicing social justice, where the world’s resources are shared more equitably without human greed or exploitation. It is possible to live a joyful simple life, so others can simply live.
As more and more people know and learn what Gawad Kalinga is doing for the poor and deserving families, more benefactors and donors are pitching in; as far as Virginia, and New York, Los Angeles and San Jose, California in the U.S. and also in Europe. We hope and pray that our 30-housing GK Laoac Namnama Village II will soon be completed by May 2019, before the beloved Mayor Boying Alarcio steps down.
We have a few more units that need funding, so if you are moved to be a part of this Gawad Kalinga Movement, eliminating poverty by 2024 one village at a time, \please email or call this writer-Rotarian at (714) 746-3088.