INTRODUCING OUTREACH PHILIPPINES, INC. (OPI)
Val Gando, 15 March 2023
Outreach Philippines was established in 1987 as a field program of Outreach International, a non-profit organization based in Kansas City, MO., USA implementing project funding programs for people’s organizations in poor communities in the Philippines. It was started by Dr. Dennis R. Labayen, Director of Field Programs of Outreach International with the aim of helping the groups funded by Outreach International improve their organization through community organizing approach which was popular during that time. Eduardo Delfin, an expert in community organizing was hired to conceptualize an ideal program for Outreach International which would later shift the development approach of the organization from project funding to community organizing. This resulted to Participatory Human Development approach as the main program of Outreach International. Because of limited funding, the local organization of Outreach during that time was not registered locally and was operating through a very simple structure with Dr. Dennis Labayen as the head, Eduardo Delfin as Community Organizer and Valentin Gando as the accountant/bookkeeper. The two staffs were on contractual status.
When Outreach International realized the program to be more sustainable approach of development, it decided to expand geographically and organizationally. The early successes of community organizing in Nueva Ecija resulted to tapping of the Outreach International team in the Philippines to introduce replication of the program in Latin America, Africa and other parts of Asia. In the Philippines, Outreach International explored enhanced CO training for community leaders with Emily Garubo, Leah Diaz, Dora Miralles as pioneers in May 1992, as an application of the strategy of developing Local Community Organizers for assigning in other communities. They were later were recruited and assigned in communities in Nueva Ecija and Isabela. The expansion surfaced the need to be registered as a non-profit, non-government organization surfaced. In November 1994, Outreach Philippines, Inc. was registered as a non-profit, non-stock organization.
Registration enabled enabled OPI to comply with legal employment requirements and to employ professional staffs with expertise in community organizing and/or related fields. It also enabled OPI to expand its programs and enter into partnership with the local government and different government agencies such as Department of Environmental and Department of Agrarian Reform, which resulted to further expansion and recognition of Outreach Philippines, Inc., in the field of community organizing. At the start of the 21st century, Outreach Philippines pioneered modernization of monitoring and reporting system through the use of the internet. Partnership with the government also expanded and additional staffs were recruited. In 1999 OPI expanded its operation in Isabela, covering 3 municipalities.
The good working relationship with government agencies and local government units in developing underdeveloped communities, resulted to Outreach Philippines, Inc., being tapped as member Civil Society Organization of the Regional Assessment Team of DILG’s Seal of Good Local Governance for the province of Nueva Ecija from the time it was implemented up to the present (year 2022). This also resulted to membership in the ABSNET-Nueva Ecija. As a spearhead of its Participatory Human Development Program, Outreach International has been through the years tapping OPI’s senior staffs for international consultancy engagement of Outreach International as volunteer resource persons.
During the time of COVID-19 (2019) Pandemic, OPI implemented modified fieldwork strategies in compliance with the work from home and social distancing policies. OPI’s development program not only survived but also became more successful by taking opportunities to address social issues related to health, sanitation, and food security in times of crises, like the COVID-19 pandemic. The success enabled OPI to expand its operations in October 2020 to Masbate province, covering two coastal agricultural communities.
Communities Without Poverty
Develop, promote and practice the Participatory Human Development process (PHDp) in addressing problems of poverty and people’s disempowerment
Empowered people in collectively resolving community issues
Stable community-based organizations in its program locations
Established support networks and linkages with other organizations
Community adapted proven Participatory Human Development Approach
Open shared knowledge from experiences and lessons from community practice of the Participatory Human Development Approach
THE DEVELOPMENT APPROACH OF OPI
The Participatory Human Development (PHD) is an active, non-violent, dialogical, communicative, participatory approach to development. PHD puts highest value on the participation and leadership of the human person in development. It is an adaptation of the Community Organizing development approach as introduced by Saul Alinsky (1972), with emphasis on the value of networking, collaborating and partnering with government and non-government institutions in pursuit of development. The PHD approach is anchored on the belief that culture of silence (Freire, 1982) and non-participation are primary root causes of human and community underdevelopment, which can be addressed through the PHD methodology. The PHD methodology is a 9 steps/processes communicative approach to facilitating human development. The 9 steps/processes of PHD are:
2. Social Investigation
3. Problem Identification and Prioritization
Outreach Philippines, Inc. assigns a professional human development facilitator (HDF) in a community (Barangay or Sitio) who facilitates the 9 steps/processes of the PHD methodology for a maximum period of 5 years. The development intervention of OPI or the work of the HDF is staggered in phases: Groundbreaking (Phase 1), Consolidation and Strengthening (Phase 2), Phasing Over (Phase 3). After phase 3, it is expected that development indicators are substantially achieved and there’s a presence of an active Community-Based Organization (CBO). The CBO graduates (OPI phases out) after phase 3 or after 5 years and sustains its own development thereafter.
WHERE OPI OPERATES
OPI operates its development program in an underdeveloped rural community with at least 150 households as minimum, where one Human Development Facilitator (HDF) is assigned. Majority or more than 50% of the population in OPI’s target communities are considered indigents based on the indicators set by OPI in its area selection criteria. In terms of occupation, more than 50% of the population in OPI development program areas are landless agricultural workers. As OPI works with the entire community, its doest not consider composition of population in terms of gender and other sectors in selecting communities, although in actual communities, majority of the participants are women.
PREVAILING ISSUES THAT OPI ADDRESSES
Culture of Silence – This is characterized by the inabilities of the people in the commuity to articulate and discuss their situation and problems among themselves and with the outside institutions and authorities. OPI believes that the issues of poverty are to be addressed collectively by the people but their problem in the first place is their inability for effective discourse and for organizing themselves so that they can analysis their issues, identify solutions, plan and act to resolve them.
Lack of source of food – Basically, for the target participants of OPI’s development program this is characterized by shortage of rice, especially during lean months. This isssue is an effect of the lack of source of income and the problem of increasing actual and perceived needs but is considered more urgent because the presence of many resultant problems associated with it and its potential for aggravating other social problems
Poor sanitation and hygiene – This is characterized by absence of toilets or presence of unsanitary toilets/latrines, the lack of source of clean water, and the absence of sewerage or drainage system. This is caused by lack of source of income in the first place, and socio cultural issues such as low level of consciousness in the second place. Another causes of this social problem is the lack of access to or knowledge to access resources (material and technological resources). This issue is normally prioritized by the people because of its potential to create other issues and the simplicity of its solution/s.
Lack of access to basic education – This is characterized by far distance to daycare and elementary school, lack of classroom, tables and chairs, lack of school supplies and books, and presence of adults with unfinised primary or secondary courses. This issues is usually prioritized by the communities because of its negative effects on people’s or children’s motivation to continue their studies, and its potential for solving many other social issues.
Lack of source of income – this is characterized by lack of work opportunities in the farms, low wage for agricultural workers, child labor or children helping the family to earn more income, lack of access to agricultural resources, lack of livelihood opportunities, and other causes of insufficient family income. Because of the complexity of this social problem, the strategy of OPI is to address one at a time, its underlying causes from the perspective of the community. It is considered complex and urgent because of its many effects or its potential to cause many other social problems.
Unsustainable livelihood practices – In the communities where OPI works, this is characterized by practices of outlawed means of income generation, such as unsound forest resource extraction, illegal means of fishing, destruction of environment for a living, and other economic practices that are unsustainable in the long run such as indebtedness, use of ecologically detrimental livelihood technology, etc.
TARGET BENEFICIARIES OF OPI PROGRAMS
The beneficiaries of Outreach Philippines, Inc. are the poor people in the community, majority of whom are agricultural workers and fisher folks (Masbate) who do not own land or do not have access to resources for basic needs and investment needs for their livelihood.
OPI PHD program target the following sectors:
The current (excluding communities where OPI has phased out from) geographical coverage of operation of Outreach Philippines are the following:
Nueva Ecija (San Jose City – 3 barangas, Rizal – 1 barangay, Lupao – 2 barangays, Laur – 1 barangay, Cabanatuan City – 1 barangay
Isabela (Cordon – 1 barangay)
Masbate (Milagros – 2 barangays)