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CFCA stories

PamBuhays facilitate change and self-reliance

May 19, 2010

Families in the Philippines raise hogs
These members of a PamBuhay in Quezon, Philippines,
raise hogs and process the meat into sausage and bacon.

What’s in a name?

For parents of CFCA sponsored children in Quezon, Philippines: a lot.

They had to choose a name to describe the elements of their small community groups — one name that represented skills training, education, advocacy and livelihood training.

Tapping their native language, they came up with “PamBuhay.”

“PamBuhay” is a compilation of two Tagalog words: pamilya—meaning family or community—and buhay. Buhay can mean life-sustaining, alive or empowered.

PamBuhays are small groups of no more than 50 parents working together to identify and resolve important issues in their communities. The concept was launched in February 2009 after talking with communities served by the Quezon project. To date, 421 PamBuhays have been organized.

One of the objectives of CFCA’s Hope for a Family sponsorship program is to help families become self-reliant.

“This initiative was done in order to realize the vision of building a community of self-reliant individuals with a strong sense of human dignity,” said Marivic Ihap, the Quezon project coordinator.

Each PamBuhay chooses a leader. The members build solidarity and trust through regular meetings and provide each other with emotional, economic and spiritual support.

“It is that support that allows the group to grow and from there, to become self-reliant,” said Trisha Pitts, CFCA project director for the Philippines.

With the help of CFCA staff, the PamBuhay members can create a savings pool, take out loans from the project and start a livelihood program. Quezon PamBuhays are involved in livelihood programs such as rice milling, molasses making, organic composting and hog raising. Each livelihood program has improved the quality of life for the group’s members and given them valuable skills.

“The PamBuhay livelihood programs paved the way for families of our sponsored members to venture into different income-generating projects,” said Sister Mary Josephine Difuntorum, a CFCA staff member who works with several Quezon PamBuhays. “I saw how grateful the members are for having been granted the opportunity to improve their quality of life.”

Sister Josephine uses two more Tagalog words to communicate the impact of the PamBuhays.

“‘Sipag’ (hard work) and ‘tiyaga’ (patience) best describe the attitudes of the PamBuhay members toward fulfilling their dreams,” she said.

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