December 2, 2022
Ata Manobo farming community in Davao gets early Christmas gift from Tzu Chi
By Ben Baquilod
The Ata Manobo indigenous community in Talaingod, Davao del Norte were all smiles when Tzu Chi Davao volunteers visited them on November 27 with generous relief items. The visit was part of the regular monitoring of Tzu Chi’s banana planting project in Sitio Napisulan, Purok 14, Brgy. Sto Niño.
Each family in the community received 20 kg of rice, 6kg of sugar, pasta, coffee, vitamins, cooking oil, and other various condiments. They also received tables and chairs, water gallons, buckets, and Tzu Chi eco-bags. The farmers’ children meanwhile got vegetarian buns and candies.
Tzu Chi volunteers led the community in prayer and encouraged them to be positive amidst the daily struggles of life. During the distribution, there was a deep sense of warmth, respect, and gratitude among the Tzu Chi volunteers and the farming community.
“Since Tzu Chi volunteers came here a year ago, our daily life has been completely changed,” says one woman from the Ata Manobo community, noting that Tzu Chi has now become part of the daily conversations in the neighborhood. They were overflowing with gratitude, as some of them never had tables and chair at their homes like the ones Tzu Chi donated. “I am looking forward to our banana harvest, which would further improve our lives,” she adds.
The dream of having a sustainable livelihood is at the fingertips of the community as the bananas have been growing well and healthy. Fruits are already in sight and harvest will start in a few months’ time.
The work of Tzu Chi Davao volunteers with the indigenous peoples of Talaingod started in 2020 on the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We saw how difficult the lives of the Ata Manobo are. We thought they really need help,” said Nelson Chua, Tzu Chi Davao officer-in-charge. Throughout the year, they served 1,700 families with their rice and groceries distribution.
In 2022, the Davao volunteers officially launched the cardava banana planting project, where they planted at least 2,500 banana seedlings in a 52-hectare farming land in the barangay. They gave them technical expertise, provided organic fertilizers, and monitor the plants regularly.
The Davao banana planting project is part of the foundation’s umbrella program Tzu Chi SEEDS (Strengthen, Empower and Education for Development and Sustainability). These volunteer-led programs aim to relieve the suffering of the most vulnerable in society through humanitarian assistance, education, and livelihood creation—thereby empowering individuals, families, and communities to become self-sufficient.