When we met Oscar we could see his heart to help his community: his desire to educate, to keep children out of militant groups, to improve the quality of life in their remote villages. We could see it so clearly was because he was already doing it—and without pay. Oscar began teaching children in his community without a classroom, without pencils, without paper, and without a salary.
For Oscar this work did not come easy. Their community is extremely remote, accessible only after a couple days travel from the nearest city—a journey that includes taking a bus, a motorcycle, and a hike through the mountains that includes dozens of river crossings. Nearly everyone in this community survives off of farming and hunting: gathering wild rice from the forest or wild frogs from the river. In this environment, teaching carried an even higher price because of the time lost that could be spent farming.
But Oscar knew his students’ lives were on the line. All throughout their region are scattered rebel militia groups including communist rebels that prey on youth with few opportunities. Oscar knew that the only way to protect his community’s children from conscription and to lift his community out of abject poverty was through education.
This is what Oscar was doing when we met him, and this is what he is still doing today. Although today, the context has changed significantly. Through partnership with the government and other ministries we have been able to help their community build their first school building, buy school supplies, and even pay their teachers.
Over the past several years, none of the youth from their community have joined militant groups, and many of the students are dreaming of becoming teachers themselves because they can see the transformation in their community.
These are the kinds of leaders we partner with at Inheritance Fire, and this a model of the transformation we are working to bring to remote areas of the Philippines. We exist to empower local leaders like Oscar who have vision and to give communities the tools they need for transformation and to protect their children from violence.
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