Here is a little sample of what we've been growing at the farm. These crops were planted in September, and by December they were ready for harvest. They will be sold at local markets and help feed the local community!
In July 2015, we launched a pilot agro-social enterprise project in the Philippines called The Red Farm, short for REDemption Farm. The project is designed to address the core issues facing small farmers and local at-risk children. As it grows, the farm will evolve into a community-based program that will provide food, jobs and empowerment for all members of the community.
This farm will serve as a place of hope, growth and redemption for everyone involved.
Bukidnon is a landlocked province on Mindanao, the third largest island in the Philippines. Despite being the major food producer for the Mindanao region, it is among the poorest provinces in the Philippines. According to a 2013 report from the National Statistic Coordination Board, 43 in 100 families are below the poverty line.
The tribal communities, living predominantly in the remote countryside, rely solely on farming for their means of survival. But long running civil conflicts, government neglect and corrupt middleman systems have left communities broken and people desperate. Poverty and hunger are rampant, and there is little opportunity for work or sustainable income. A strong, rebel army presence puts children at high risk of recruitment and creates an even more volatile environment.
But there is hope. By providing a practical, alternative solution to the survival and livelihood issues, we can empower the communities and provide opportunities for children to reach beyond the bleak reality of their current circumstances.
The project has four main goals. First, the project will be a safe place where young gangsters who were formerly caught up in drugs, robbery, murder, sexual assaults, and armed conflict can continue their rehabilitation. Secondly, the project will provide employment opportunities for at-risk youth and show them an alternative and sustainable way of life outside the army. The project will also use profits from the farm to fund various activities like a feeding program for street kids and scholarships for indigenous children enrolled in our Bukidnon schools. And finally, the project will be a pilot for replication and expansion into other conflict areas.
The farm is strategically located on 3.5 hectares (2.4 acres) of land just outside the city of Malaybalay, beside the Can-ayan riverbank, in an area ideal for vegetable planting with easy accessibility to the community and local market. It will produce pechay (a type of cabbage) as the main vegetable crop, as well as eggplants, string beans, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and green peppers. Eventually, the farm will hopefully include livestock like chickens and pigs.
In July, our team and partners worked tirelessly clearing the land and preparing the soil for crop planting.
In Malaybalay, the capitol city of Bukidnon, Richard Sibayan is fighting to better the lives of former gangsters and street kids. His, program called the Malaybalay Youth Transformation Movement (MYTM), is one of the primary beneficiaries of the farm. The MYTM seeks to rehabilitate young gangsters and give them hope for a future beyond crime and violence. The 21 kids currently in the program, who range from ages ten to eighteen, are part of a world where drugs and alcohol are the norm and most of them admit they did it out of boredom. It’s this kind of aimless but harmful decision making that Sibayan is trying to change.
For Richard and the MYTM gangsters, Red Farm means sustainable income and productivity instead of unemployment and constant hunger. As they work the farm, gain business skills through market sales and develop personal work ethics, the young men will be encouraged toward brighter futures and empowered to become advocates of peace in their communities.
By investing in the youth and equipping them for successful futures outside the gangs and rebel armies, we are not only changing their lives, we are also helping them lay a foundation for future generations that will work to stop the cycles of violence and poverty in their communities.
The local communities will also reap great benefits from Red Farm. The previously unused land, now teeming with lush vegetables and active with farmers tending to the crops, will be a source of hope and a constant reminder of the change that is possible. It will bring opportunities for employment, additional food provisions, a prominent place in local markets and the ability to sell produce completely independent of the corrupt middleman systems.
In March 2016, a group from Conduit Mission spent time at Red Farm working alongside our Red Farm staff and the young men of our local partner organization, MYTM. The team loved their time at our farm!
We build schools and learning centers in remote Indigenous Peoples (“IP”) tribal regions of Mindanao in the Philippines. In addition to education, these facilities are the best way to protect children from army recruitment. Five of fifteen planned schools have been opened since the project launch in 2011.
Meet Rizal! Although he came from a broken family and was eventually deserted by his parents, he persevered and graduated as the Salutatorian of his class! We recently received a heartfelt letter from Rizal saying...
“Thank you for the scholarship assistance that you gave me, because of that I had the opportunity to finish my high school studies…I beg for your help to continue my studies and get a college degree because education is so valuable to me. It gives me hope for my future, as well as for my siblings...I will be a good scholar of your foundation and will study hard to get high grades!”
We would love nothing more than to bless as many graduates, like Rizal, as possible with the gift of college so they can become advocates for education and peace in their communities. If you would like to make a donation in support of this dream please visit our SchoolsSAVE campaign page!
These beautiful kiddos were thrilled to receive their new school books!
A new school year has begun in the Philippines! These children don't have much in the way of clothes or school supplies, but they couldn't be more excited to learn!
We quickly mobilized a ground team, connections and resources to the most remote and dire areas after Typhoon Haiyan. Our team facilitated the shipment and distribution of 1.5 million meals to survivors.
Over a year later, the destruction is still evident and many families are still striving to plant organic rice to help support and feed their families.
We sponsored a timber harvest project focused on fallen falcatta, a softwood species native to the Mindanao region of the Philippines. We successfully negotiated the protection of logs from pirating with cooperation from the government and the dominant rebel faction in the region. The falcatta project has opened a path to a sustainable hardwood harvest that would greatly benefit the indigenous people of the area.
High in the mountains of Mindanao, Philippines, over 200 children and their families have been forced to evacuate their homes. The villages of Insibay, Tigbao and Mentusing are in turmoil after a bandit gang attacked a local NPA leader and then turned on the community elders.
The families have taken refuge in the nearby village of Tumalog but the conditions are extremely poor. Food is scarce, illnesses are beginning to take lives and the threat of violence is still imminent. We are hoping the government will help provide relief but so far, their response has been minimal. Our team may be one of the only sources of aid for these families.
We asked and you answered! Your swift and generous response impacted hundreds of evacuees! During the relief campaign, our local ground team further assisted the displaced communities by working with their leaders to mobilize aid from the local government; tap our local partner network to supplement purchased food, medicine and supplies; and, recruit doctors, nurses and other volunteers to join the mission.
The relief mission team arrived on June 17, undeterred by torrential rains and flooding during their entire 52 kilometer journey. They often walked, whenever the road was too muddy or tough. The only mode of transportation up the treacherous mountain is by motorcycle or by foot. They rode five high on one motorcycle and even crossed rivers on makeshift rafts!
We delivered relief goods for 130 families, donated clothing, mosquito nets and water containers. Medical services were not limited to evacuees, welcoming several neighboring communities. By mission’s end, 826 registered patients received medical attention but close to one thousand received consultation.
Physical healing and peace building have begun, school has started in its temporary location, and temporary shelters are being built while their home region stabilizes and the violence subsides.
As our team was preparing to leave Tumalog, many villagers crowded around them to express their thanks. They also specifically asked us to relay their gratitude to you, the donors, that made this mission possible. Together, we have not only provided physical aid, but also much needed emotional strength, inspiration and hope to these beautiful people.
Our E-Learning Center was completed in May 2016! This facility expands upon the basic learning opportunities already available at the Center by providing access to online and visual media – a world these children have never even dreamed of!
But the Center isn't just benefitting the kids! While waiting for their children, parents will be able to access enriching sessions such as parenting, practical livelihood skills, health and wellness. The Center is also committed to employing locals to fill teacher and staff positions.
These children represent a new generation of hope as they are now being equipped and empowered for a life outside the army. They will have the skills to get a job and provide for their family. In the longterm, they will begin creating new cycles by encouraging their own children to attend school and become advocates for peace, instead of violence.