Gawad Kalinga has grown to be a movement of nation-building because it dared to hope amidst an environment of cynicism. In a country known for its corruption and its poverty, Gawad Kalinga is awakening and inspiring heroism in people beaten down by disasters of history, politics and natural calamities. GK presents a unique perspective on poverty:
Poverty is a behavioral problem with economic consequences.
The problem of poverty is not about a lack of money as much as it is a loss of human dignity.
The poor may not have steady financial resources to support their basic needs but what permanently cripples them the most, disabling them from rising from poverty, is the loss of human dignity. Once stripped of their dignity -- forced to live in conditions quite close to that of a pig pen, people start to live like pigs. It is then that standards of living decline, value systems crumble and chaos rules. Moreover, they lose their capacity to dream and work towards achieving their dreams.
Poverty is most debilitating to the men who are reduced to living like animals (becoming predators) when they are de-humanized and stripped of their natural male nobility.
Men, by their very nature, are meant to be hunters and protectors of their families and, most especially in the Philippines, men are expected by society to be the providers. Caught in the cycle of poverty and being unable to deliver as he is expected to, Filipino men lose motivation to be productive members of society and instead turn towards vices of drinking, gambling, mendicancy and some, even turn to a life of violence to regain their primacy over society.
The cycle of poverty is rooted in the divisiveness of our nation.
The Filipinos are an intelligent and talented people but most have been pursuing the path of individual gain and achievement without a conscious effort to work for the common good. For decades now politics, religion, socio-economic class and ideology have divided the country. Further, driven by ambition, self-interest, pride and the need to provide for their children and their family beyond their need, those who have material wealth have turned a blind eye to a great many others who are in need. The Filipino has lost his inherent culture of bayanihan, its culture of working together as a community for the greater good.
That is why GK’s attack to poverty is quite revolutionary. It does not address poverty through a purely financial solution. It addresses poverty through environmental and social engineering. And more than being a non-profit or charity organization,
Gawad Kalinga is a movement of nation-building.
GK focuses on the restoration of the dignity of the poor by building colorful GK homes in beautiful communities.
From flimsy shanties of bleak grey rusted iron sheets, motley brown used plyboards and tattered tarpaulins and plastic, GK builds for the poor sturdy structures painted in bright colors of hope. From unsanitary surroundings, GK brings them to clean, beautifully landscaped communities. From bare survival in structures akin to pig pens and chicken coops the poor now turn to a quality of life equal to upscale subdivisions. By providing them with a middle-class environment the poor start to have middle-class dreams and aspirations to work for.
Where most interventions target women and children, for GK the initial intervention is through the men.
GK raises the men to their inherent nobility and productivity by getting them to build homes for their family and for their community. GK puts man’s natural brawn to good use – turning him away from destructive activities in society and instead leading him towards building for his neighbor.
The success of a GK community is hinged on the improved quality of life of the entire community rather than the economic or material standards of living of an individual.
Through its various programs, GK aims to renew the culture of bayanihan in its communities. GK breaks the current culture of individual gain and instead envisions a strong united community that builds together, plants together, harvests together and rises together – believing that no one will be left behind.
Through GK, Filipinos and people of all faiths and races are transcending differences to come together for nation-building. GK unites by not discriminating in terms of politics, religion or ideology. In Mindanao, GK has forged friendships and partnerships in various communities where Christians, Muslims and lumads build together, live together and rise together.
Breaking out of the usual fund-raising mentality, GK focuses on building strong partnerships. In GK, everyone is welcomed not as a donor but as a key stakeholder… a committed and passionate partner in re-building the nation. Through a creative formula of counterparting, GK has been able to forge strong multi-sectoral partnerships that bring together individual resources (financial, human and extraordinary) to effectively fill in gaps. In the model of Kalinga Luzon, the national government through National Disaster Coordinating Council and the Department of Social Welfare and Development provided a 50/50 share of the funds with GK for the construction of homes. The local government secured the land, provided site development and the use of heavy equipment. Other groups come in to drive the programs on-ground.