Social Devt Council Center for Community Extension Services (CCES)

Ateneo's CCES launches Bangka School for Bajaus

To propel the Ateneo de Zamboanga University’s peace efforts through education, the Center for Community Extension Services (CCES) launched the Angiskul ma Bangka (AmB) last March 3, 2016 in Asinan, Barangay Talon-Talon, this city.

Docked in the shoreline of the Masepla transitory site, the Bangka is a floating learning center built especially for the 87 seafaring Bajau kids enrolled in the AmB daycare center who will now enjoy a “child friendly” space for learning with the blessing and launching of the AmB.

Consistent with the Bajau custom and practice of living in houseboats, the Bangka will serve as a “travelling classroom” for the internally displaced Bajau children, who will be fetched from different locations, including Mariki and Rio Hondo where some of them will transfer from their current transitory site in Masepla. They will also be brought back to their homes after attending class in the floating school.

The blessing rite, Pagpa-Dua’ Salamat, was led by Imam Baks Jainal, who performed the Du’a (prayer) inside the Bangka with a small group participating including Ateneo de Zamboanga University (ADZU) president Fr Karel San Juan, SJ, Center for Community Extension and Services (CCES) director Loreta Sta Teresa, CCES co-implementers Cartwheel Foundation Inc (CFI) Executive Director Maria Johanna Pia Ortiz-Luis and Dr. Jenny Elmaco of Karapatan sa Malikhaing Paraan (KaSaMa), among others.

In his message during the program, Fr San Juan highlighted the values of friendship and peace, stating, “Kaya kami nandito kasi magkakaibigan tayo. Nagtutulungan tayo. Kailangan natin mag-aral, mga bata, kaya nagtulungan tayo para sa Bangka (classroom). Ang mga magkakaibigan ay nagtutulungan. At kaya tayo nandito na magkakaibigan kasi naniniwala tayo sa kapayapaan. Dapat binubuo natin ang peace. Kapag nag-aarala ang mga bata, meron tayong kapayapaan.”

Sadiya Utuhsaya, Kahapan Kasulutan Kasanyangan Parimpunan (KKKP) vice president, in her response, thanked ADZU-CCES and CFI, and expressed hope that they continue to assist them in their struggle for self-determination. She tearfully added that, “Nagpapasalamat kami may natutunan kami at nakapag-aral na kaming mga Bajau. Ipagpapatuloy naming ito para malaman ng lahat na hindi lang panlilimos ang kaya naming gawin.”

The AmB Project was established in 2014 in the Masepla Transitory Site, in partnership with CFI and funding from KaSaMa and La Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (AECID), the official Spanish Agency for international development cooperation.

Also present during the event were Camp Manager of Masepla Recovery Site 1 Fedilita Dejumo of the City Social Welfare and Development (CSWD); Department of Education’s Indigenous People Education Coordinator Eulalyn Fernandez; Datu Arpa Hussayin of the Bajau Council of Leaders; representatives from Simariki Island Sama-Bangingi Association (SISBA), Zamboanga City Indigenous People Council of Leaders, Task Force Zamboanga, and the different ADZU Social Development Council Units.

Aside from the Day Care Center, CCES and CFI also run a functional literacy program for Bajau women, and the CCES health program, together with the Ateneo Medical Assistance for Internally Displaced Persons.

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