Gawad Kalinga is a community development organisation that
originated in the Philippines. Its aim is to rid the world of poverty through giving
care in a manner that reinforces peoples’ confidence in their own human dignity
and helps them access resources in ways that enhance rather than
diminish their future capacity for self-reliance. It is anchored in the
values of caring and sharing.
The approach sees rich and poor working together in sophisticated, planned programs that provide communities with the means of ensuring their own
future. With the support of ‘caretaker teams’ drawn from all sectors of society,
squatters are given training in service and leadership. They are supported in
writing up their own village constitutions and establishing effective governance
structures. With rules reflecting their greater values and aspirations as a
community, the caretakers work beside the people to build the homes, schools,
playgrounds, libraries, clinics, gardens and infrastructure that are the
physical manifestation of those values.
This ‘values’ based approach has seen slums replaced with
landscaped homes, school attendance rates rocket and crime rates plummet. Villages develop food self -sufficiency and undertake
their own environmental restoration work.
Each village also has its own clinic and health program.
In less than a decade, GK in the Philippines has built over
2000 villages, each generally comprising around 30 homes together with ancillary
facilities and infrastructure. It is the
quality of the transformation, both for the beneficiaries and the volunteers /donors,
which is having a revolutionary impact on the country as a whole.
Relevantly for Australia, the GK model holds the potential,
with modification, to offer a path for marginalised communities here to escape
the deprivations of welfare dependence and substance abuse. It is a model that enhances rather than
undermines traditional values, while giving people the opportunity to determine
for themselves their manner of living in full respect of the choices that they
and their neighbours make. Many of the ideas and approaches to development which
are being considered for application in Australia – sweat equity home ownership,
student mentoring, community justice, community and corporate volunteerism etc – have already been applied in a holistic and
thought out manner through GK’s programs in the Philippines.
More information on Gawad Kalinga is available at GK’s