The Ateneo de Manila and Gawad Kalinga
Gawad Kalinga (GK), which means “to bestow care” in Filipino, is an integrated, holistic, and sustainable alternative solution to poverty. What began barely five years ago in the Philippines as a simple but daring initiative by Couples for Christ has now become a growing international multi sectoral partnership driven by a vision of a new Philippines with no more slums.
The transformation has been astounding. Slums are disappearing. Rich and poor, Muslims and Christians and Lumads, the government and the private sector are building communities together. The poor are rediscovering their dreams, and are being empowered to build better futures for their families. There are hundreds of stories of how the lives of both beneficiaries and donors have been transformed, and the number of stories increases every day.
Gawad Kalinga’s core program is GK777: 700,000 homes in 7000 communities in 7 years. As of mid-May 2005, GK has built 11,441 homes in 467 communities, with even more being built every day.
The Ateneo de Manila University’s aims to form men and women with and for others, whose faith is expressed in the work of justice. This is intimately aligned with GK work. Thus, in 2003, the Ateneo formally engaged with GK as its very first university-wide community-building program. GK-Ateneo involves all Ateneo units, from pre-school to graduate school. Hundreds of Ateneans from all sectors – students, parents, teachers, staff, administrators, alumni – have worked for GK as well. To date, the Ateneo has taken the lead in the building three communities namely, the Blue Eagle Village in Payatas Trese, Sitio Ruby in Fairview, and Gabaldon in Nueva Ecija. The University also participates in the national work of GK by from encouraging other schools around the country to adopt the GK site nearest them, and providing institutional support for the scaling-up effort for GK777.
As an academic institution, the Ateneo has commissioned studies on GK and KL. A team led by Dr. Angelita Gregorio-Medel of the Center for Community Services (CCS) has begun to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the GK movement. The goal is to provide guides for reflection and for the development of GK communities nationwide. The Loyola Schools are also integrating GK into the undergraduate curriculum. Loyola Schools students may now use GK as a subject for many of their term papers and theses.