My personal definition of “sustainable,” meant being able to start a program that can be replicated, thus, creating an objective that shall support its long term goals.
We are therefore building a sustainable future by implementing agricultural projects and empowering animal husbandry. Through the help and grant from HAPI, selected families of Haduan Negrito Families have been awarded sows (piglet) and kids (baby goat). These farm animals are a test pilot and they were taken from within the community to make sure no disease is introduced in the mountain.
At the moment, we are still securing farm animals within the boundaries of the mountain range that Indigenous People have lived for thousands of years.
Creating a sustainable program that is not sanctioned by politicians nor government, is not without peril. There will always be a threat from within and from the government itself. The area, being mountainous and heart of the community being inaccessible, is considered haven for communist or lawless indoctrination.
My view has always been empowering the IP through basic education and supporting the children to finish their education through aids and financial support.
Investing (sweat, tears and time) in a program that can alleviate the lives of the IP is arduous, but having the tenacity to continue is worthwhile because these projects can be a success. Like a tree that can take years to take root, but eventually will bear fruit that will sustain a family.
The basic social services are taking a generation to be available in the mountain. Electricity alone is nonexistent. It’s a good thing, that I have some technology of solar power lamps, so I can be assured that my scholars will be able to have a better view of their books.
The reading room is now serving the children as a haven for storytelling and a resource area (old books as reference materials) and a bookstore (pencils, eraser and sharpeners area available on weekends).
I was asked many times why I do what I do, because I CAN DO IT and I always say this, serving from the heart gives me peace and a certain satisfaction that a chocolate does not satisfy ( I still eat a lot of them though hahaha). I realize though, that I am not as strong as I was, the uphill trek to our heartland (community kitchen, where we plant) used to take only an hour and a half, but, now it is taking me two hours at the most with breathing exercises along the way. The only dedicated time I can give to my programs and projects is weekends, or when there is no paid work to finish. Our programs are not yet self-sufficient, hence we are still dependent on donations and aids.
My worry has always been, what will happen if the project is not yet finished, but seeing how enthusiastic Ericka is (she wants to be a lawyer someday to fight for the mountain) , and how bright Tysee (future engineer whose dream is to supply water and electricity to the 3500 hectares of ancestral land of their clan) has become, I can be assured and I am HAPI that the future is brighter than the last 50 years.
It may not happen in my lifetime, but what is important is that the seed is already planted, an influence accepted, awareness caught on, and that sustainable growth and socio-economic development is within reach.
Humanism is not about the dictates of the government, it is the relationship of the community with each other. It is about the respect for the people towards the environment that provides the resources, so that they can live peacefully and contently.
To be HAPI is to be HUMAN.