By Joseph B.A. Marzan
Angat Buhay, the non-government organization (NGO) started by former Vice President Leni Robredo, on Saturday launched a nutrition and education program that will benefit 200 kids in Janiuay, Iloilo.
The “Angat Bukas Lusog, Galing, Sigla!” Convergence Program for Nutrition and Education will feed between 230 to 260 children in Janiuay town with Mingo meals, with an observation period of 6 months.
Mingo meals originated from Negros Occidental, and are made with rice, mung beans, and moringa (malunggay), with 73 calories per serving, added with 16 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of protein, and also packed with Vitamins A, C, B1, B6, potassium, iron, calcium, and zinc.
It will also use the produce of local farmers to be used by parent groups and other local volunteers for cooking the food, which will be distributed through in-school feeding programs.
The new project is a duplication of a previous program implemented by the Office of the Vice President under Robredo’s term in the neighboring town of Lambunao.
Elvin Uy, Executive Director of Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), one of the NGO’s partners in the project, said that they aim to aid children aged 0 to 36 months, as well as those enrolled from Kindergarten to Grade 3 levels.
PBSP will provide learning interventions for early-grade learning, focused on numeracy and literacy.
Uy also said that Janiuay was just a pilot town for the project as they will duplicate the project to the rest of the province and the country.
“PBSP aims to provide answers to the poverty of the people, and one of the important pillars of our program is education. Health is also important for us, especially that of children, and that is why we are motivated to join Angat Bukas. We want to help communities to have access to a better future,” Uy said.
Angat Buhay treasurer and board member Camille Genuino told media that this was just their latest addition to the organization’s existing Community Learning Hubs in the towns of Oton, Pavia, Santa Barbara, San Joaquin, and Tigbauan.
She added that for the Angat Bukas project, each child is enrolled for P1,300, based on donations from Angat Buhay donors, supporters, and volunteers.
“[We] have four pillars—education, nutrition and health, community engagement, and disaster relief and rehabilitation. Our focus in Iloilo province is on education and nutrition and health. We’ve created Community Learning Hubs where learners have access to Wi-Fi and tutorials on how to use computers,” said Genuino.
“We have done this in the pandemic to help print modules, conduct research, and now our focus is to convert them into tutorial centers because they are starting to go back to school. So, what they need is support, especially in literacy and numeracy,” she added.
The NGO’s executive director, Raphael Martin Magno, joined by representatives from private partners including PBSP, Philippine Business for Education (PBEd), and Negrense Volunteers for Change (NVC) Foundation, inked an agreement with Iloilo 3rd district Representative Lorenz Defensor to formalize the project.
Also witnessing the ceremonial signing were Janiuay town mayor Paulino Parian, 3rd district Board Members Jason Gonzales and Matt Palabrica, Badiangan town mayor Suzette Mamon, and other local officials.
Local civil society organization Sarangan Ta Dya, a group of volunteers who spun off from the Robredo 2022 presidential campaign, was also present to lend their support.
Defensor said that the project will greatly benefit the town’s kids in all 60 barangays from the población to the upland hills, and hopes to replicate it in Maasin and Badiangan towns.
He added that Angat Buhay and the private partners also committed to provide additional classrooms to Janiuay schools.
“We will start to solve the roots of [the problem of] malnutrition and the challenges of children’s learning capacities because of poverty and lack of physical access in far-flung barangays. This has been done successfully in Lambunao and hopefully it also finds success in Janiuay,” the legislator stated.