“Re-visioning the community based development program
of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines”
In 2012, the development program of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines was been re-visioned and re-structured into what is now known as the Episcopal CARE [Community Action for Renewal and Empowerment] Foundation, which was separately incorporated as a non-stock, non-profit corporation in 2014.
Since 1987, through the solidarity and support of our overseas partners, the ECP’s community-based development program has grown to the level of around US$ 700,000 in annual grants. However, despite transformational activities built into the program which were meant to enhance the self-reliance of partner communities, there has been no real breakthrough in terms of significantly obliterating the destructive worldviews of dependency and mendicancy that have continued to plague many of these communities. Instead of building self-reliance, community development projects often had the opposite effect of perpetuating dependency. What was causing this negative course was the system of resource flow in the program which often involved large grants that have, in effect, made the communities assume the role of receivers. The millions or hundreds of thousands of pesos in grants that poured into these communities made the latter more helpless and powerless as they realize that they can never generate these amounts by themselves and therefore it was solely upon the grace of others that they have received the same.
In recent years, the program adopted the use of the Asset-Based Community Development [ABCD] approach, which emphasizes assets or resources instead of needs or deficiencies as the drivers of development. However, even this approach did not fully address the dependency and mendicancy problem. ABCD therefore was in danger of becoming just another by-word or concept meant to justify and smoothen the resource flow from external partners to local communities by providing the rationale for the latter to leverage external resources in a manner that was more acceptable to the funding partners but, in the end, did not actually make a dent on dependency. Thus, E-CARE innovated on the ABCD concept and imposed what has been adopted by in the ECP and now known as the “From Receivers to Givers” Policy. Under this policy, communities receiving external grants to support their respective projects are enabled to eventually give back and pass on what they received so that, from being receivers, they in time also become givers. This policy institutionalizes and models the “Sea of Galilee” which E-CARE now hopes to become.
Accordingly, the Sea of Galilee is so full of life and so unlike the Dead Sea which, as the name implies, does not allow any living thing within its embrace. The difference between the two is that the Sea of Galilee receives water from the Jordan River and discharges the same water into the sea while the Dead Sea has an inlet but not an outlet or it only receives but does not give out. What makes the Sea of Galilee so alive, dynamic and vibrant is the continuous process of receiving and giving out. In the same manner, the re-visioned E-CARE must not only receive but must also give out. The Church’s development program has become both a GRANT RECEIVER and a GRANT GIVER! Therein lies its strength and innovative feature.
In 2013, for the first time, E-CARE had a community project that became a recipient of half a million pesos in project fund contributed by 18 communities that previously received similar project funds. In 10th October 2014, E-CARE witnessed a ceremony where the women of one community passed on a check for P200,000 to the men of another community in order that the latter can put up a mechanical rice mill. The amount came from the operation of a similar mechanical mill project set up in 2011 in the giving community through a P200,000 grant from an external partner. Through the years that it operated, the mill has earned and recovered the original project fund that the community granted and shared with others.
The sharing of project blessings by and among communities is now a fast growing phenomenon in the ECP under this “from receivers to givers” policy. As of end of December 2014, a total of P10.2 million has been given back by erstwhile receiving communities and passed on to others. These amounts now represent a perpetual partnership between our communities and our overseas partners. With the continuous implementation of the policy, the development program of the ECP, from being a grants receiver, has now, through E-CARE, become a grants giver using the “pass-on” funds from the partner various communities. E-CARE is now managing external resource flow in way that is demolishing the unhelpful grant mindset and actually furthering the positive worldviews that support, rather than weaken, community development. It is now accomplishing its FOUR BOTTOMLINES, as follows:
1] Alleviation of Poverty and Economic Empowerment – Enabling partner communities and households to move from a level of survival and/or subsistence to self-sufficiency and self-reliance;
2] Practice of “From receivers to Givers” Policy – Enabling communities which receive fund support from the Foundation to eventually give back or give out what they received so that they can share the blessings of their projects with others;
3] Institutional Self-Reliance – Enabling the Foundation to be operationally self-reliant so that it shall not be dependent upon external partners for its operations; and,
4] Support to ECP Vision 2018 – The ECP is expected to pursue community development program as an expression of its faith as outlined in the 5 Marks of Mission and hence it must be able to utilize such program in order to enhance the faith of its communities and congregations which has motivated the program in the first place.