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Story and Photos by Mabe Basco | Admin Manager | Heifer Philippines
Emerging youth leaders in Mindanao developed their public service skills and learned about the importance of sustainable development through a new internship program. The United States Embassy of Cultural Affairs in Manila, Heifer Philippines and the National Youth Commission (NYC) sponsored the program, which was held October 22-31, 2012.
The U.S. Embassy, the sponsor, and Heifer Philippines and NYC,the implementing agencies, have acknowledged the need to mold young potential leaders from Mindanao. The third largest island group in the Philippines in the south region, Mindanao is known for its rich natural resources and productive, hardworking people. It is the cradle for many development projects funded by the government and other international agencies, but despite these advantages, peace and poverty issues remain.
Seventeen youth leaders were nominated by different learning institutions in Mindanao. Then, the nominees went through a rigid selection process. Ultimately, 10 finalists were selected to participate – three males and seven females.
Heifer Philippines hosted the first week of activities and educated the young leaders about Heifer’s Values-Based Community Development. It was also an opportunity for the interns to learn about sustainable agriculture, microenterprise methods and livelihood security. After each session, the interns were taught how to prepare and develop courses of action. This gave them a concrete guide to implement what they had learned in the program upon their return to their respective communities. After the classroom discussions, the interns visited a successful family-owned dairy goat farm and an effective cooperative institution. After completing Heifer’s session, the interns participated in the National Youth Commission’s activities for one week. This session also instilled in them a spirit of volunteerism.
The closing ceremony was a heartwarming and inspiring event.
“The lessons were not only shared, but instilled in all of us,” Shakimar Nazra Kiram said. “Before, I had this notion that it is impossible to end hunger and poverty in my community, but after hearing and knowing what Heifer does in the communities where it works, everything seems so possible now. I am privileged to be part of this internship program. With this I can be an instrument of change.”
With the success of its first youth internship program, the United States Embassy in Manila plans to make it an annual event.
“The action begins when you go home,” Attorney Neil Pacamalan of the U.S. Embassy shared in closing. “It is up to all of you whether to make a change in your respective communities or not; lessons have been learned and shared, knowledge imparted. The call to action to make a change will all depend on you—future leaders of Mindanao.”