A guest blog from Hannah Ireland, who recently visited Mindanao as part of a Young Ambassadors for Peace workshop.
Almost six weeks ago my first niece was born. One day old when I first went to visit her in hospital, she was very small, and extremely cute. I remember thinking, that evening, about the life she has before her as a girl growing up in Australia. She will be well fed, have an excellent education, probably go on to uni and be able to make choices about what she wants to do in her life. I also thought, that evening, about how different that life will be from so many of the girls growing up in countries where UnitingWorld’s partners work.
I reflected on this again the other day when I read an article about women’s rights and nutrition. It acknowledged the well known fact that educating women is the most important step to empowering women worldwide. However, it went on to say that before a young girl even enters a classroom the nutrition levels in her first 1,000 days of life are highly likely to predetermine her life’s potential (Nutrition: The Hidden Women’s Rights Issue, Huffington Post). Whilst I am aware of the importance of nutrition, particularly early in life, this statement surprised me in the huge significance it places on the importance of good food in the first three years of a child’s life. For my niece, obtaining good food is probably not something that will ever be an issue, particularly not before she’s three. But, as the article revealed, it can be the most significant issue for millions of children around the world.
Food, and food production, are important parts of the new peace and development project UnitingWorld is partnering with in Mindanao, the southern island of the Philippines. Through this program, Subanen (the Indigenous group local to the area) communities who traditionally experience higher levels of poverty than their non-Indigenous counterparts will have the opportunity to build sustainable livelihoods through participation in organic farming and livestock raising activities. These activities provide both income generation and a source of locally-grown nutritious food.
Initiatives like this one contribute to increasing food and nutrition security in the lives of Subanen families and giving children a healthy start in life. Initiatives like this have been built on the foundations of the peacebuilding program where communities have come together and chosen to precipitate positive social change in Mindanao beginning with the transformation of relationships and continuing on to healthy and peaceful futures.
To find out more about this exciting project and how to donate, click here.