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Feature: Hope for T'boli natives in South Cotabato

Koronadal, South Cotabato (25 October) -- "I am excited! I dream that someday I could go back to school and help my family spared of poverty." That is not impossible. Besides, the government is helping us… Like putting up a school building in our village, said 13-year-old Jelyn Kuyan, during its inauguration in her village.

Afus Elementary School in T'boli, South Cotabato was made possible through the KALAHI-CIDSS, a government anti-poverty project. The project seeks to reduce poverty in towns of Malungon, Sarangani; Arakan, Magper, Libungan, President Roxas, North Cotabato; T'boli and Lake Sebu, South Cotabato; and Lutayan and Columbio, Sultan Kudarat.

T'boli natives in the village of Afus took part in building the school that now caters to their children's elementary education.

"We have labored together so this is very important for us, I am proud to be part of its construction" said Jimmy Bayog, a 28 year old farmer. He has not reached sixth grade in school so he could not find a good paying job other than farming. Like other fathers, he wants his children earn a degree and find good jobs.

Afus is about two-hour travel by land from Koronadal City, capital of Central Mindanao, about 560 miles southeast of Manila.

Now that we have school building again, he and his siblings could go back to school. I want them to learn so they would not end up like us," Atatad said.

The people in the community are now united in pursuing their goal of uplifting the lifestyle of their neighbors. In fact, local officials, who have differences, are helping in the implementation of the projects he added.

Gemma Rivera, project manager of KALAHI-CIDSS, said the people are part of the project. "These are not dole-out projects. These are not imposed upon them. These are what they want, therefore they have the feeling of ownership", she added.

Apart from electrification, KALAHI-CIDSS also provided residents road rehabilitation, a solar dryer and warehouse, water system, school building, road rehabilitation and health centers sub-projects in this town. (KALAHI-CIDSS/EZN/PIA 12) [top]

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