Innovative Culture Appreciation Project by Just Projects Philippines Foundation

Sharif Awliya Academy, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao

Maria Consuelo Locop, Glen Mar Achivar, Queenilyn Liwat, & Rhedz Abas

A peace module for teenagers that promotes understanding between its Christian, Muslim and indigenous peoples participants. The Inovative Cultural Appreciation Project (iCAMP) is a combination of seminars and immersion camps that will instill a culture of peace among its participants.

The goal is to bring iCAMP to other areas in Mindanao where children-at-risk are. These are kids who grew up in depressed areas where armed conflict is prevalent. If the innovation continues to change the mindset of children in Datu Odin Sinsuat, the innovation team hopes to bring iCAMP to Zamboanga, Sulu, Jolo and North Cotabato.

CONNECT WITH US!

The innovation team calls for more volunteers, especially volunteer teachers, who can invest their knowledge and skills in training the youth affected by armed conflict.

cho@justprojects.org

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Know more about our story!

Many children in Maguindanao grow up prejudiced against people from other faiths and cultures, most of them influenced by their elders. Datu Odin Sinsuat is a place shared by Christians, Muslims and indigenous peoples. It’s also a place where young minds become at risk of perpetuating the same prejudices that they’ve been told, and a place where they can finally free themselves from these biases.

It’s using the holistic approach: peace with our Creator, peace with yourself, peace with others, and peace with your entire environment or your community.

OVERVIEW

Just Projects Philippines Foundation (JPPF) has been working with children they consider at-risk at Datu Odin Sinsuat in Maguindanao for some time now. The organization has been funding the education of at least 90 students. When JPPF partnered with Tuklas Innovation Labs, they introduced the Innovative Culture Appreciation Project or iCAMP. The project promotes peace building by exposing kids to people of other faiths and cultures in camps and other joint activities, and teaching them about multiculturalism to prevent future conflicts.

BACKGROUND AND CHALLENGES

Many children in Maguindanao grow up prejudiced against people from other faiths and cultures, most of them influenced by their elders. Datu Odin Sinsuat is a place shared by Christians, Muslims and indigenous peoples. It’s also a place where young minds become at risk of perpetuating the same prejudices that they’ve been told, and a place where they can finally free themselves from these biases.

Datu Odin Sinsuat is also a place of armed conflict. In 2017 alone, some 2,400 families have been displaced in Datu Odin Sinsuat by skirmishes between government forces and ISIS-inspired groups accoridng to DSWD Disaster Response Operations Monitoring and Information Centre (DRONIC) data. The Philippine Armed Forces and the US State Department say a huge number of these combatants are actually children. JPPF committed itself to the putting an end to this. They’re promoting a culture of peace, which they hope to instill among children during their formative years through iCAMP.

The entire project has three components, according to Project Manager Maria Consuelo Locop: recovery, iCAMP, and a cultural immersion tour.
Recovery is the actual rescue of children from areas of armed conflict. It also involves enrolling them in schools. iCAMP is a series of activities that promote understanding among children coming from different backgrounds. It involves the teaching of a peace module that JPPF has been developing for years and conducting workshops that can help participants understand that a person of different faith or culture is not an enemy. Lastly, a cultural immersion tour where participants can put themselves in the shoes of the people they thought were hostile to them.

RESPONSE

JPPF has been developing their peace module for even before they had a chance to test its effectivity. Queenilyn Liwat, Peace Module Facilitator of JPPF, says it took them two years to put iCAMP together and it’s still a work-in-progress.

TUKLAS Innovation Labs is helping JPPF test if the peace modules are effective in promoting understanding among the youth of Datu Odin Sinsuat. Maria Consuelo Locop, JPPF Project Manager, says they have four modules on hand. Currently, they’re going through the first one with the participants of iCAMP.

“It’s using the holistic approach: peace with our creator, peace with yourself, peace with others, and peace with your entire environment or your community for that matter,” Locop says.

JPPF is working with kids aged 12-17 because they believe that these are their formative years. “This is where we build relationships because they would be the next leaders in the community,” says Liwat.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT AND IMPACT

iCAMP participants come from different faiths and cultures. During the lecture portions of the innovation, the children learn about the beliefs of other religions. By understanding what another person believes in and realizing that it’s not very different from yours, the children learn acceptance of their neighbors. This breeds a sense of multiculturalism.

Abehurayra Abdulgani, assistant principal of Sharif Awliya Academy, witnessed the impact of iCAMP to the students in their school. “Members of the IP tribes here in Maguindanao rarely enroll in our school because they are being bullied. But after the camp, our students now understand that we are the same, even if the other person comes from a different culture and tribe or has a different religion,” he says.

Johar Tugalingan, one of the student participants of iCAMP, also shared what he has learned. “I really don’t know the reason why they say Christians and Moros are at war. It’s just something our elders tell us. I learned from Just Projects that we can coexist with Christians because we have a common heritage. If you treat Christians well, they will return the favor,” says Tugalingan.

SUSTAINABILITY

Locop finds the positive change in the mindset of their participants is encouraging. “We would also like to test it in Zamboanga because we want to penetrate the restricted areas that not many NGOs can access. We’re also planning to bring it to Sulu and Jolo. We’ve already done exploratory trips in that area, she says.

“Hopefully, we’ll also be able to bring it to Basilan and North Cotabato,” Locop adds.

JPPF is also open to working with the Department of Education to help improve DepEd’s existing peace module. “It’s not being trickled down to areas that need it the most,” according to Locop.