Eighty-three volunteers gathered to install solar streetlights and refurbish a school and community center in the Global Peace Foundation’s first All-Lights Village in the Tarlac Province, Philippines on May 30, 2015. The All-Lights Village Project is a long-term community development program that begins with providing solar-powered lights to rural villages with limited access to electricity and then assists with improving the overall quality of life through education, clean water solutions and income generation. The program is now in six countries around the world.
When volunteers from the Global Peace Foundation, FedEx, the local government of Capas, Philippines Department of Education and other non-profit organizations and corporations arrived in village sitio Flora of Barangay Maruglu, villagers warmly welcomed them with a display of tribal dancing around an open fire. They danced as part of a tradition of calling upon ancestors and spirits to welcome and protect the village’s visitors.
Just last December, the village was selected as the first All-Lights Village in the Tarlac Province. The village is located in the mountains and had no electricity and was chosen to be a pilot for other indigenous communities. Volunteers distributed solar lanterns to residents to help school children with evening studies and to assist families by providing light in their homes.
For the second stage of the All-Lights Village development, residents alongside volunteers helped rehab the local school and community center with mural paintings on a classroom wall, constructed a ceiling and painted walls of the community hall, and hosted fun activities with the village children. The day ended with a celebratory ribbon cutting for the nine solar streetlights that were installed.
Volunteers witnessed how empowered the village people were to take initiative and ownership of the future development of the village and said they were honored to be a part of the project.
“For several years I was a beggar on the streets of Manila because it was the only means I knew,” one mother who lives in the Flora village expressed. “Whenever I collected enough money I would come back here to Flora and provide for the needs of my children. Then I would go back again to the streets to beg.”
She struggled in this way for years but says that she is now hopeful because of the opportunities the All-Lights Village provides. “Now that I have seen the efforts of the All-Lights Village organization and Fr. Art of the Tarlac Aeta Mission of the Diocesan Commission on Indigenous People, I feel the kindness and support that all of the volunteers have given us. It inspires me to stay in my village with my family and continue to do my part.”
Flora village residents said they will continue to work alongside the Global Peace Foundation and partners to improve their village and quality of life.
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