Feature: Keeping hearts at peace
by Recthie B. Tolinero
Cagayan de Oro City (9 February) -- Magsaysay is a fifth class municipality of Lanao del Norte with 24 barangays and for many years, the people dwelling in it have experienced numerous armed conflicts already.
According to Yasser Marohom, Magsaysay Municipal Link, implementing the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) in the area is a very challenging work.
Since August 2008, there were already 1,697 beneficiaries who were receiving grants from 4Ps. But before the program was implemented in the area, Marohom and some staff from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Field Office in region 10 have encountered difficulties in validating and registering the potential beneficiaries in the area.
"These horrifying experiences though never stopped me to do my work because I believe that the program might be able to change the way some people here think and with the strong support of the local government unit (LGU), I know I will survive," Marohom coyly shared.
At the beginning of his job, Marohom received several death threats. Many people came and asked why they were not included in the list of beneficiaries. In a calm manner, Marohom tried to explain the process of selecting the beneficiaries saying, "There was an enumeration done before the program was implemented in the area. Poor households as based on the Family Income and Expenditures Survey were interviewed and assessed by some staff of DSWD. Selection of the beneficiaries was done by the department alone and the LGUs did not have the power to choose the households that they wanted to be included in the program."
After several months, Marohom, with the help of the LGU, was able to handle the complaints and issues of the beneficiaries well. The beneficiaries now consciously abide with the program's conditions especially on attending family sessions. "Grouping the beneficiaries alone was very tough since they come in different beliefs. But I am thankful that the beneficiaries never made this difference an obstacle to formulate their groups and begin with the sessions," he happily said.
"Being assigned in an area where armed conflicts often occur is very frightening but since I am still alive (joking aside), I know that I can still keep the beneficiaries' hearts at peace by fostering camaraderie despite their differences and by meeting them monthly during barangay assemblies where we can exchange thoughts on how we can improve our lives," Marohom expressed.
The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program is strategized to improve the health, nutrition and education of the poorest households and with the situation in Magsaysay, Lanao del Norte, the existence of the program only shows that attainment of peace and order can also come along with it. (DSWD X) [top]