KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/06 May) – As their way of helping poor students, some 200 young men and women who call themselves, “builders of peace” planted on Saturday 200 rubber seedlings on a vacant lot at the Ginatilan Elementary School at Barangay Ginatilan, a remote village here located at the foot of Mount Apo.
“After five years, these rubber seedlings would grow into trees, which in turn would give the school the money to pay for the tuition and other school fees of many of their students,” said Ana Fe Villarosa, president of the Mindanao Youth PeaceBuilders.
Days before the tree planting, a memorandum of agreement (MOA) was signed between the school management and Lauro Taynan, a member of the city legislative council who provided the Mindanao Youth Peace Builders the funds so they could push through with the project.
Under the MOA, the school will take care of the plants until the time they could tap the tree to get the sticky, milk-colored latex and sell it to the rubber processing plant in nearby Makilala town in North Cotabato.
“The trees would be useful after five years. This is going to be a lot of income for the school. We just want the management, including the students and parents, to take care of the plants,” she said.
Since 2011, the Mindanao Youth Peace Builders had planted 1,500 rubber seedlings in at least 10 schools located in the remotest villages in the city.
“This is our way of building peace. Peace is also about taking care of the environment. When we plant rubber trees, we help mitigate global warming and at the same time make money out of it,” she said.
The group was organized in late 2010 and is focused on helping build peace in poor and conflict-affected communities in the province.
They started their advocacy in 2011 by feeding thousands of malnourished children in poor villages here with funding from well-meaning individuals and support from a local council member.
Aside from projects, the group also conducts peace forums in schools (Malu Cadelina-Manar/MindaNews)