Written by Michelle May
Mindanao, Philippines was once known as the "land of promise" because of the land's rich bounty.
Despite that richness, however, the majority of the people in Mindanao are poor and living conditions are getting worse each day. The people are constantly plagued with the loss of jobs, the rising prices of basic commodities, and the struggles of increased aggression by the multinationals.
The country is impoverished more-so because of the low emphasis placed on social awareness and nationalism that hinders equal access of the rich natural resources to all. As a result of the disparity, education, which had been accessible to all, is becoming a privilege to those who can afford it rather than a right as mandated by the constitution.
Of the poor, community development leaders and church workers have had the roughest time. There has been a rise in the number of their co-workers who have been hurt or killed as a result of their work. Their families have suffered, and many of them are unable to provide educational opportunities to their children.
The Southeast Mindanao Jurisdiction of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (SEMJur) has responded to the needs of the families of the community development leaders and church workers through the Reach Out Program. The Program provides assistance to families in the forms of cash assistance, educational scholarships and livelihood kits. It responds to issues of malnutrition and hunger, illiteracy and hopelessness.
Mindanao is once again becoming a land of promise because of programs like the SEMJur Reach Out Program. Children of active, retired and deceased pastors are thankful that they have the opportunity to receive an education and better their lives.
A grant from One Great Hour of Sharing was given to the SEMJur Reach Out Program through the East Asia and Pacific Area Office of Global Ministries. Global Ministries is supported by Wider Church Ministries of the United Church of Christ and the Division of Overseas Ministries of the Disciples of Christ Christian Church.
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