by: Kurt Pascual and Bolkiah Mamadsual

Celebrating the youth service day across the globe commemorates the historical efforts of millions of young people – children and youth who dynamically improved their communities through service. Recently, the YES Alumni Community of General Santos City launched the Project Sine Saya 2018, raising the banner of AFS Intercultural Programs Philippines.

Uniting volunteers coming from different backgrounds, the team brought the cinema to a long-drawn-out village named Sitio Blala in Barangay San Jose, General Santos City last April 21st of this year. The Project Sine Saya came to the community with its primary goal to combat Early Marriage Culture currently existing in the community. It is a common practice in the area that at the age of fourteen or at times even younger, the teens of Sitio Blala are already bound to get married and have a family.

This initiative aims to address such existing social problem through encouragement and stressing the importance of education. The team transformed their classroom into a mini-movie theater where children enjoyed short animated clips with free popcorns. The children were encouraged to share what they learned and talk about their dreams. A talent showcase also came to roll along with the different interactive games that the children, parents and volunteers enjoyed. Prizes in forms of school supplies, monetary and food were given out to the winners.

Moreover, the YES alumni conducted a feeding program to 82 children and donated groceries to one hundred families that is composed of the indigenous members of community. This is also part of the project’s advocacy which is  to fight hunger. The groceries were donated by several benefactors who took the crowd sourcing challenges through social media platforms called Take-A-Pledge and Saan-Aabot-Amot-Mo. Advocating also the environmental conservation, the team set forth to a hiking journey for a tree – planting activity with the assistance of Blala Elementary School Principal, Mr. Jun Cortel in which Mahogany seedlings were planted to prevent the occurrence of soil erosion.

The community of Sitio Blala is one of the marginalized indigenous communities in the country that observes early marriage culture, thus depriving early childhood and opportunities out of every child. Project Sine Saya is a one-step platform which aims to address this social problem through youth empowerment and community immersion especially to the grassroots level. Lastly, the team aspires to influence the perceptions of the people community when dealing on various social problems and hoping to leave them a positive impact.