We are currently running the Dumagat Education Program in the Philippines.
The Dumagat are an indigenous tribe located in the north of the Philippines, in the Quezon Province. They live in the Sierra Madre mountains, eking out a living in an ever-diminishing area of land. They are traditionally forest hunters and farmers who are struggling to maintain their livelihoods in the face of their land being taken from them by the government and by other settlers.
At the start of 2017, Kingfisher church began an initiative called the Dumagat Education Program (DEP). This program enables a growing number of Dumagat children to get an education, either at the local village school in Bulak (at the top of the mountain where many of them live) or in Sibug Elementary school (in the town of Sibug, located at the foot of that mountain).
The government provides an education for children, but the families are expected to provide food, materials and accommodation, which is beyond the means of many Dumagat families.
The DEP enables currently around 40 people to sponsor this group of children to receive what we regard as basic in the West, but what the Dumagat see as absolutely vital to provide a better future for their children. Traditionally, girls would get married at the age of around 12, when they would leave school and be expected to support their husbands at home and become mothers themselves. The DEP is enabling different choices to be made, especially for these young girls. Some of the 30+ children we sponsor attend the local school in Bulak, which enables the children to live at home and walk to school. However, for a more formal education, the children need to travel down the mountain to Sibug to attend the elementary school there. The journey is hazardous and takes a long time, so the DEP is providing accommodation near to the school, in the form of wooden houses and a kitchen and toilet facility, where the children and their families can live during the week, returning home at the weekend.
In consultation with the Mayor of Rio Chico, it has been agreed that a community centre, whichwill also serve as a church, will be built at a halfway point up the mountain between Sibug and the tribe’s current home in Bulak village.