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Change That Matters

By: Cielito F. Habito, PhD
Annie is a fortysomething mother with a free spirit. Separated from her husband of 24 years, her two grown children have chosen to seek their own independent lives. She is a horticulturist by training, a landscape designer by profession, but a social worker by her chosen vocation. A frail woman with an adept brain and a kind and patient heart, she is the kind of person we need many more of, all over our country.
Last year Annie met Paz, a woman with a similar passion for helping uplift the lives of the disadvantaged, and who had inherited a piece of farmland in a little town south of Metro Manila. Paz wanted to put that land to good use to help the local farmers and their families improve their lives in a meaningful and lasting way. But engrossed in other community initiatives closer to her home, she had little time to spend directly with that farming community. After conversations with Paz, Annie volunteered to live among those farmers, in a one-room structure volunteers had built earlier on Paz’s property from hollow blocks and other discarded materials she provided. Annie admits she wasn’t quite sure why she decided to do so, only that something inside her seemed to push her into it. And so, with her limited belongings and P300 in her pocket, she moved into the farmhouse equipped with nothing more than her technical knowledge and a self-appointed mission: to harness it to help this new community that she walked into as a total stranger.
The first farmer she encountered was Kuya Boy, who had already been planting on a piece of land on Paz’s property with no explicit permission. She tried to befriend him, and explained that she was there to help them, but he seemed indifferent and skeptical. The children were more trusting; they came around when she cooked and shared a simple snack from cassava with them, and have since come daily. Annie promptly began planting vegetables in plots, and flowering plants around and leading to the house from the main road. For weeks, she went about her own business with hardly anyone but the children paying her any attention, at times helping tend to her seedlings.
Read the full article at http://opinion.inquirer.net/102228/change-that-matters