RURAL YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
In 1998, The Filipino Children’s Fund joined with a non-governmental organization, the National Institute for Social Transformation, Reconstruction and Unity (INSTRUMENT), in Infanta, Quezon to sponsor an education and self-employment training program called the Rural Youth Development Integrated Training Program.
In Infanta as elsewhere, the difficult circumstances of poverty and unemployment are often especially pronounced among children. Limited opportunities for education, training, viable employment, and health and social services are just a few of the issues that have a disproportionately greater impact on indigent young people. This hardship is particularly acute, yet often less noticeable, in rural areas.
Youth from poor, rural areas increasingly migrate to the cities in hopes of finding employment. Most, however, fare no better than their urban poor counterparts. The majority end up in low-wage, dead-end or exploitable positions, such as domestic helpers, laborers and entertainment workers. Many are drawn into prostitution, drugs and other criminal involvement, or even lured abroad for illicit activities. And, of course, many others become children of the streets with simply no means of support or places to live.
The purpose of the FCF and INSTRUMENT program, therefore, was to keep the children of Infanta at home and provide them with the basic skills and tools to contribute productively to the community while helping to maintain themselves and their families.
Under the management and supervision of the INSTRUMENT, Infanta's rural youth development program involved 50 young people in training to build an economically productive village-wide collective. The youth were selected for intensive training on organic and environmentally sustainable methods of backyard gardening, agri-business management and development of entrpreneurial skills. In turn, they put this training to practical use in raising produce and animals, establishing processes of sales, and acquiring financial skills.
The young trainees were provided with seeds, organic fertilizers and non-chemical pesticides, while no-interest loans drawn from FCF support were made for initial poultry and pig purchases. With field demonstrations and on-going supervision and family assistance, the youth are able to learn the principles and skills of agriculture and business, actively raise produce and animals, and sell their products for profit.
Through active participation, these young boys and girls are assured of having at least the minimal knowledge and skills to help sustain themselves and their families and to become productive members of their rural community.