Balay's disaster response has covered more than 3,300 school children in 10 barangays in Monkayo and Trento. The schools reached by our activities are the following: 17 elementary schools, 2 high schools, and 22 daycare centers. Our partner teachers, including the daycare workers, count to 186. We have already conducted 34 psychosocial support sessions in all covered schools alongside supplemental feeding. The number of adults who benefited from the same activities are almost 1,000. We have also distributed almost 100 tarpaulins in our partner schools which they used for their temporary learning spaces, or to cover their classrooms whose roofing were blown away.
Teachers we interviewed said that the feeding and psychosocial activities have encouraged children to go back to school. Attendance rate that we have monitored stands at around 82-85%. This is remarkably high considering the devastation suffered by the affected communities. However, we also noted that older children have not been consistently going to school as they are compelled to work in "birada" or hauling of fallen logs to generate income for their families. Some have engaged in gold panning or "tiktik ginto," a form of tunneling to extract precious metals for a living.
Prior to our intervention, teachers said many children are unusually 'pasaway' and 'matigas ang ulo.' Most are restless, and have a very short attention span in class. Anxiety also runs high among them. Incidence of conflicts have also been notable between children, according to teachers. All this are apparently attention-seeking behaviors that are often observed among children in distressful condition. Our play and art activities have provided a therapeutic opportunity for the children to come to dispel their negative thoughts and emotions associated with their traumatic experience. As a result, they obtained some psychological relief and have somehow gained a certain understanding about their extreme experience with the knowledge that the 'situation is under control' and that they can trust the people around them as they have the same experiences and that they are being cared for. The psychosocial activities have helped to lift their sense of isolation and uncertainty which result to the recovery of their cognitive, emotional and behavioral skills.
As our sessions also introduced basic concepts on disasters and preparedness, the children are now more aware what to do to reduce the risk of suffering when a calamity strikes. This includes listening to radio, and helping to pack clothing, food, toys, records, flashlight and learn when to seek refuge with adults as preparedness measures.
In some barangays, we have suggested that they put premium on disaster monitoring and preparedness and consider relocation sites for households along hazardous areas. Such as along the river or in landslide prone places.
Our team collaborates with the Department of Education and the DSWD. They join occasional inter-agency meetings convened by international humanitarian agencies as well. Reports shared by DepEd contacts indicate that most international organizations are concentrating on the same areas, especially those that have been widely reported in the media. They say that it results to uneven distribution of services to the affected population. As far as we know, Balay is one of a handful of national NGOs that operate in Trento. In Monkayo, it appears that Balay is the only NGO that sustained its services in some of the schools and communities that we covered. Despite our limited resources, we figured that we may have actually covered around 25% of the elementary schools in that municipality.
Mindanao Youth Peace (MYPEACE): A Testimony of Advancing Peace in Mindanao
A friend send me this "A Dream of Peace does not became a reality through magic, it takes hard work" and I remember the experience I had with the first Batch of the MYPEACE held in University of Southern Mindanao (USM) in Kabacan, North Cotabato last January of 2008.
Four Years ago, I took the challenge of being involved in the historic event of a three-week intensive program geared towards letting the youth understand better the untold realities of Mindanao Struggle and be able to craft visions to make this reality more meaningful filled with instruments- Peace, Human Rights, Justice and Environment.
The training revealed various stories that motivated us youth- peace advocates and missionaries of our own community to not just understand the history of Mindanao Conflict that until now had been prevalent concept of misunderstanding but to let us realize the importance of appreciation of one's difference from one another and finding common grounds to the culture of peace.
Organized by BALAY Rehabilitation Center, we were living in one HOUSE referring to History of Opportunities and Understanding for a Solid Experience. The theme focused on giving us more appreciation of what's with the real score of the Mindanao's Peace Situation.
This article presents an overview of the challenges faced by human rights organizations and survivors of torture in seeking justice despite the availability of an anti-torture law in the Philippines. Several legal, political and security-related impediments are cited here to raise the challenge to state agencies to undertake steps to break the culture of impunity in the country by making the anti-torture law an effective remedy to prevent torture and for the victims to obtain redress. This paper draws lessons and recommendations from the insights generated by the authors in the course of their participation in the IRCT-led FEAT project.
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A statement from Balay Rehabilitation Center
Like a number of advocates of children's rights, we at Balay, also believe that lowering the age of criminal responsibility is not the solution to the problem we face with children being involved in criminal activities and violence.
In this position paper, we would like to share our experiences in working in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City (Bagong Silang hereafter) with our children and youth partners who, once or several times in their lives, have been involved in illegal activities. We would like put across the message that lowering the age of criminal responsibility is a short-term fix for a problem that requires long-term efforts. Likewise, we also believe that we need to transform popular perception, especially for adults and law enforcement agencies, to the understanding that children and youths are often victims rather than perpetrators. We also argue for the position that the spirit of the Juvenile Justice Law is correct and wise, but is not fully utilized due to ineffective implementation and the lack of resources devoted to its objectives.
26 June 2012 – Quezon City, around 650 individuals from the civil society, government agencies and communites in Metro Manila gathered and ran along EDSA in participation to the Basta! Run Against Torture (BRAT). BRAT is an annual event, is a public demonstration where individuals from the civil society and communities express their want for a torture free Philippines. Moreover, BRAT is a showcase of parntership and solidarity between the civil society organizations and the government sector in the realization of the said vision.
BRAT was led by the United Against Torture Coalition (UATC) which is comprised by several civil society organizations including Balay Rehabilitation Center (Balay), Taskforce Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), Medical Action Group (MAG), Amnesty International Philippines (AiPh), Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearances (FIND) and Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) among others. The civil society contingent was joined by participants from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine Human Rights Commission (PHRC). Participants from Barangay Bagong Silang (Barangay 176) was also present in the event.