Accompaniment

The mission and vision of Casa Bayanihan is centered on the students’ experience accompanying marginalized communities in the Metro Manila area. Throughout the semester, students in pairs or groups of three will spend two days a week in our “praxis communities” learning about the reality of poverty and life in the Philippines from the Filipinos that live it every day. This experience, which we call “praxis,” will allow students to develop genuine and lasting relationships in Filipino communities and create the opportunity for students to take part in a kind of experiential learning that many Casa alumni have deemed transformational or life-altering.

Praxis Sites

Tahanang Walang Hagdanan (House Without Stairs)

Tahanang Walang Hagdanan

Tahanang Walang Hagdanan (TWH) is an NGO that was founded in 1973 by a group of Beligan nuns to provide employment and other services for the differently abled. Some employment opportunities include sewing, wood shop, metal craft, silk screening and pill packaging, and TWH also provides housing, a health clinic, physical therapy and vocational training for its residents and employees. There is an educational program for kids with special learning needs and a daycare for children of all TWH employees. Beyond these services, TWH empowers its members to be independent and productive and affirms their dignity and importance as employees and as people.

Role of Students: Depending on the interest of the student, there is much flexibility in the involvement of students in daily life at TWH. Students can spend time in the daycare assisting with the care of children of TWH employees, help out in the classroom for students with special needs, or work alongside those in the different departments of employment. Students also have the opportunity to visit the homes of TWH employees in the community nearby.

Sitio Payong

Sitio Payong

Located at the outskirts of Quezon City, this is a small farming community that has no access to potable water or electricity. They do not own the land where they live and run the constant risk of being forced off the land. There are existing laws that prohibit members of the community from bringing in any materials to improve their homes, so construction is limited and homes are made of a variety of materials ranging from blocks, to wood, to metal, to cardboard, to plastic. The local parish, St. Peter, is very active in the community and sponsors a number of programs. A food program for children and a pre-school are among such programs.

Role of Students: Students will assist in the activities of the food program, preschool and offer a variety of tutoring programs to the children in the community. They will also participate in daily living of the community, including some farming.

Lingap Pangkabataan (Care of Children)

Lingap

This is an NGO that focuses on advocacy for street children (defined in the Philippines as any child who spends 4+ hours a day on the streets) as well as a micro-lending program. In the children’s program, much emphasis is put into reaching the community through community-based education. At the main office, there is a preschool that provides a learning environment that supports children to develop skills necessary to construct their own knowledge, prepare them for their next school environment and encourage them to become life-long learners. The school believes that the Filipino child is a unique creation of God, hence, innately good and special. The micro-lending program reaches out to small-scale business people and offers not only low-interest loans, but also training and workshops to equip people to run a successful business.

Role of Casa Student: Students will participate in the variety of programs that are offered to street children and their families, both in the Center and in the surrounding communities of Quezon City and greater Metro Manila. This includes participating in Lingap’s weekly mobile van program, which focuses on providing street children with quality, alternative education. Students will also spend time in a community of taho vendors, who sell a local street food, and another neighboring community of informal settlers learning about the daily realities there. Students also have the opportunity to learn about the micro-lending program and participate in home visits with Lingap staff members.

Kapit Bisig

Kapit Bisig

Kapit Bisig, or “Linked Arms” in Filipino, is a small, organized urban community (about 140 families) that has a history with Couples for Christ. CFC is committed to working for the renewal of families that will serve God and build generations of Christian leaders and pursuing Christian liberation through social justice, respect for life, and work with the poor. Their programs aim to address and provide basic needs on the following aspects: health, education, livelihood and community development. Kapit Bisig is a well-organized community and its members are very active in the local homeowners association, civic-oriented and church related activities.

Role of Student: Students will be involved in the activities at both the community center and the preschool. Time will be spent with the families of this community, learning about their reality and sharing in daily tasks.

Calatagan

Calatagan

Students will also spend one week of the semester immersed in a rural fishing village in Calatagan, Batangas, Philippines. Students stay with host families, hear about the lives of fisher folk, learn to fish, and gain insight into the challenges of provincial life and the environmental issues surrounding the village.

San Damian Center, Bagong Silang

Bagong Silang is a relocation area in the outskirts of Metro Manila with an estimated population of over 1 million. The area was developed in the 1980's, and many families were given a small lot of 50-60 square meters on which they could build their home, but many of these homes meant for one family now house as many as four. Most of the residents living there came from other informal settlements within the city of Manila, and the infrastructure and social services in this area are a challenge. Most have electricity but many live without running water, and there is no hospital in the community, which means that the majority live without access to adequate health care or services.

In response to the fragile situation in which the community members of Bagong Silang live, an order of sisters and brothers of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts who run the local parish created the San Damian Center, which offers services, education and empowerment to the community. They run a number of tutoring programs for middle and high school students, a feeding program for malnourished infants and young and nursing mothers, and they also empower the women who volunteer at the center through education and livelihood projects.

Role of Students: The students will be involved in different activities in the parish and the San Damian Center, such as tutorials for middle school and high school students and classes for people with special needs. In the afternoons, the students will accompany a volunteer from the center to visit the homes of families whose children are involved in the feeding program in order to get to know the families on a personal level and assess the outcomes of the feeding program. There is also a unique opportunity for the students to interact with the Sisters and Brothers of SSCC (Congregation of the Sacred Hearts) through weekly shared meals and conversation.

Ang Arko ng Pilipinas, L’Arche Punla

Ang Arko ng Pilipinas, L'Arche Punla, is the Philippine community of L’Arche International, which “seeks to promote inclusion, the valuing of diversity, and international solidarity, and seeks to be a sign toward the building of respectful societies founded on ‘relationships between people of differing intellectual capacity, social origin, religion and culture’” (extract from the L’Arche Charter). With this spirit, L’Arche Punla is a community of individuals with and without intellectual disabilities, living together as a family of support and acceptance. The Punla community welcomes individuals with intellectual disability who have been abandoned. These individuals then become the "core members" of the community, and they live and work alongside the "house assistants." All members of L’Arche Punla have their own responsibilities in their homes just like in any ordinary family household where one has to cook, do laundry, clean, or go to market. Each member also cares care for “family member/s” who are fully dependent and need more support with daily needs. Beyond meeting everyday needs, L'Arche Punla seeks to enhance the spiritual, social, and mental development of core members through the following activities: a daycare center for education, a workshop center where core members learn to produce and sell various paper products, shared weekly chores, and daily spaces for prayer and reflection. Above all, L'Arche Punla fosters a family where relationships are authentic and where community members celebrate each individual's gifts.

Role of Students: Alongside the core members and house assistants, students will participate in the daily schedule of activities at L'Arche Punla, such as creating and painting homemade paper products in the workshop and sharing in community spaces of prayer and reflection.