Rotary club assists Badjaos in Matina Aplaya

The Rotary Club of Davao, or RCD, the first of some 100 Rotary clubs in Mindanao, has launched “Project GypSEAS for the benefit of the Badjao (Sama-Bajau) community in Matina Aplaya, a coastal barangay in the First District of Davao City. Badjaos are also called sea gypsies and SEAS in “Project GypSEAS” means Security, Empowerment and Sustainability.

RCD, now under the leadership of newly inducted  president Filomeno “Fil” Divino, regularly holds outreach and fundraising activities in line with the objectives of Rotary International with its motto “service above self.”

One of the projects of the 78-year-old RC Davao is “Project GypSEAS” aimed at developing the potentials of the sea-faring ethnic group whose potentials just “go to waste due to the stigma and discrimination it is subjected to.

According to a handout, the Rotary club, in launching Project GypSEAS, aspires to “break down the beggar stereotype on the Badjao, a reason the general population looks down on them “; to make the Bajdao feel they are a significant part of society; preserve their colorful culture, and assist them in adapting to the change of the times;  and to bridge the gap between Badjao  community and mainstream population.

We want to assist them in improving their daily living by providing them different programs that will train them and help them develop into a sustainable community, according to President Divinoi.

The project will teach the Badjaos to grow their own food through FAITH (Food Always in the Table} Gardening Technology. Along this line, members of the tribe  will be taught to plant organic vegetable in their community. Aside from teaching them the skill to produce their food, the grownups will be trained in livelihood skills, while the children through education and sports.

While the training goes on, the Rotary club will also give the children supplemental feeding which is proven to improve their learning capability and decrease the dropout rate in school.

Aside from the above, the club will implement other forms of intervention “until the community will become an asset to society.”

To realize the objectives, RC Davao has partnered  with various organizations and agencies to implement the project and interventions.

Among the partner agencies as AFS Intercultural Programs Philippines Davao Chapter; United States Government Alumni Association-Davao, ASEAN Young Leaders Association-Davao chapter, Ateneo de Davao University Social Services Student Executive Council, Food SECURE Ph, and Ateneo de Davao University Social Work Department.