"Beyond Boundaries: Empowering Communities for Sustainable Development: A Stakeholders' Forum in Songkoy, Philippines

on 08 May, 2024
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Songkoy (Philippines), Marie Poussepin Community Development Center (MPCDC).- On April 29, 2024 took place in the Marie Poussepin Community Development Center (MPCDC), Songkoy -  Philippines, el forum "Beyond Boundaries: Empowering Communities for Sustainable Development".

This resonates deeply with the legacy of Blessed Marie Poussepin in social justice and community development. Amidst the sweltering heat of Songkoy, stakeholders gathered to explore innovative approaches for promoting community sustainability, echoing the spirit of compassion and service exemplified by Blessed Marie Poussepin.

The event, organized by the Dominican Sisters of Charity of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin in partnership with the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Manila, and in collaboration with the UNESCO Chair in Adult Literacy and Learning for Social Transformation at the University of East Anglia in the UK, served as a pivotal platform for dialogue, knowledge exchange, and sharing of best practices among diverse stakeholders. This forum underscores the commitment of our missionary involvements, working hand in hand with UST and the UNESCO Chair, to foster meaningful engagement and drive positive change in our communities.
The introduction of Professor Anna Robinson-Pant, the UNESCO Chairholder, paved the way for insightful presentations from diverse project teams. The UNESCO Chair team, comprising researchers from Tribhuvan University in Nepal, Sussex University in the United Kingdom, and the University of Santo Tomas, Philippines, presented the results of their current project titled, "Empowering Communities through University Partnerships in Public Health. Their work centered around the initiatives of public health and top-down approaches that impact the participants’ everyday realities.

This was followed by the presentation of our sister Madeleine Tiemtore, on the existing project in Calasiao: Sustainable Livelihood in Rural Communities through Natural Farming and Intergenerational Learning." This project aims to improve socio-economic conditions, integrate values and spiritual formation, address poverty, food security, health, and nutrition, and promote family literacy within sustainable livelihoods.
Following the presentations, participants engaged in a lively roundtable discussion, delving deep into pressing community sustainability issues and exploring actionable strategies for positive change. Responses to the discussion questions focused on innovative approaches such as leveraging local health knowledge, fostering transparent and inclusive partnerships, and implementing culturally responsive programs. These discussions underscored the importance of collaboration in driving meaningful impact at the grassroots level.

The forum emphasized the power of partnership and collective action in building resilient and thriving communities. In the words of one attendee, "Today, we witnessed the power of collaboration and the potential for positive change when we come together as a community. The journey towards sustainability may be challenging, but events like these remind us that we are not alone, and together, we can truly go beyond boundaries."
This event marks a notable advancement for our ministries. By actively collaborating with academic institutions, we can improve research capabilities, educational resources, and innovative approaches to address various community needs effectively. Partnerships with NGOs (Non-governmental Organizations) can provide access to specialized knowledge, networks, and resources that complement our initiatives and expand our outreach. On the other hand, engaging with government agencies facilitates access to policy support, and regulatory frameworks, which could enable us to scale up our projects and programs. This also allows us to gain valuable insights, community connections, and grassroots support essential for successful implementation at the local level.

By linking these partnerships to community development and sustainable development practices, our ministries can create comprehensive and impactful solutions to address social, economic, and environmental challenges faced by marginalized communities in the Philippines. Through collaborative efforts, we can empower communities, build resilience, and catalyze positive transformation, all while upholding the values and mission of compassionate service ingrained in our ministries.
This inaugural event hosted at the MPCDC, marks a notable milestone for the center, which recently reached the completion of its construction in January 2024.