This is a reprinted article from a newsletter published by Heifer International, my charity of choice. I like the idea that the charity works to create independence rather than dependence. This is just one story about the work this wonderful organization does. If you can donate you send a gift of life…farm animals that can help liberate people from the cycle of proverty. My favorite gift is a flock of chicken! They provide valuable protein, and an added source of income.
Also please click on the cornerstone link to watch a short, wonderful and heart warming video. It is inspiring.
“I don’t want to be enslaved by fear, I don’t want to kill and I certainly don’t want to be killed,” said Ammang Kiloy with a resounding voice. “I want peace.”
Ammang Kiloy, a 56 year old farmer, is a member of the Basao Tribe in the village of Tinglayan, one of the fiercest among 52 tribes in the province of Philippines. Some years ago, Ammang decided to leave his tribe. “No, I did not forsake my tribe, I just want to live in peace,” said Ammang. While he was in the tribe, he experienced hardship, unable to leave his community to work in the fields out of fear of being caught in a web of conflict his tribe is involved in. His Basao clan is involved in serious, violent conflict with other tribes. “Kill or be killed, I have had enough of that so I decided to go away,” shared Ammang.
Migrating to Tabuk, he met and married his wife, Maxima Kasulay, and they decided to settle in Sitio Cogawe, Cudal, Tabuk City. Since there was not much space to reside along the main road in Cogawe, they decided to stay farther from the main community. His house is a 30 minute hike from the main road. Ammang and Maxima are able to maintain a house and a small farm for their sustenance. While both of them were unable to finish primary school, their diligence as farmers bore fruits as they are able to send their five children to school. Theirs has been a life full of struggle, reaching a point when they were buried up to their necks with debts. Still, Ammang and Maxima did their best to send the children to school; to them it’s their only hope of survival.
Life for Ammang and Maxima began to improve when they become members of the Self Help Group (SHG) under the Cogawe Sustainable Highland Agri Livestock Resource Enterprises (CO-SHARE) Project, t implemented by Heifer Philippines and project partner, Tabuk Luminawaan Center (TLC). “I am so glad to be part of this project. I received four goats, five ducks, assorted fruit tree seedlings, farm tools and of course, the trainings,” said Ammang. “The trainings provided enlightenment on my part, and further enhanced my faming skills, especially managing livestock and improving agroforestry and forage plantation,” he added. As part of his commitment to the group, Ammang let other members of the SHG establish a model agroforestry farm and forage plantation on his land.
Ammang’s well maintained agroforestry and forage plantation is intercropped with assorted high value crops and vegetables. Visitors to his farm are always treated with free samples of his agricultural produce. With the trainings he received from Heifer, he is able to improve the production of his agroforestry farm, enabling him to sell his produce at a competitive price. He even managed to sell offspring of his four goats for PhP 8,700 (US $194), which he used to purchase a water pump to augment water supply on his farm.
“Life is more comfortable here in Cogawe and I am more at ease now,” said Ammang. “I am also happy that Heifer International has also included my Basao tribe in the other project, Gift for Peace. I always hoped things would be more peaceful between the tribes, and Heifer projects certainly pave the way,” he added. Ammang and Maxima are now more focused on tending their rice field and agroforestry project. Earnings from their farm go to their children’s studies. Ammang’s first child is now a graduating college student, taking up Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. One is still in high school while his other three children are generously helping him in the farm. He encouraged his three children to continue their studies, but they also like to work on the farm.
Ammang and his family are very grateful for the project gifts, as well as for the seminars and trainings they received that inspired and enlightened them as they continue their struggle for a better life. “Peace between tribes can be achieved. Thanks to the Cornerstones, there is value reorientation among us,” said Ammang. “I believe that with self-reliance, we will have a good future here in Cogawe,” shared Ammang. He further added that the 12 Cornerstones should be shared to local government units, especially among the local leaders so that values of the people will be enhanced and peace and progress will reign in their community.
How You Can Help
Ammang and his family were able to build a peaceful and prosperous life in the midst of conflict because Heifer donors provided not only goats, ducks, and fruit tree seedlings, but also the training that enabled Ammang to put these resources to use. Help fund work Heifer’s work such as education and training by giving where most needed.