We’re so lucky to have had the opportunity to hear from Father Edu, Executive Secretary of our partner National Secretariat for Social Action in the Philippines at our recent Campaigns day. Father Edu was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2012 for being a grassroots environmentalist. What an inspiration!
Father Edu has been the Executive Secretary of NASSA (also known as Caritas Philippines) since 2010. Firstly, he described the rehabilitation programme for communities affected by Typhoon Haiyan.
“The first part was relief and meeting immediate needs such as food. We have completed the first year of the recovery and rehabilitation programme. Now we continue to focus on shelter reconstruction and WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene). The programme is also for livelihoods and disaster risk reduction – it is a holistic programme. It will continue, but now we are more focused on empowerment and capacity building and moving into the arena of sustainability.”
When talking about his campaigning work, Father Edu said he had been involved in campaigns since he was at pre-school! When he was a seminarian, he was already involved in the issues of the poor and campaigning for the environment.
“When I was ordained I requested to work and live with indigenous communities. Many mining companies threaten the livelihoods of the indigenous people and the farmers as well. The damage is so great – I knew I had to campaign and I have since campaigned nationally and internationally against extractives.
“We held a hunger strike against a government agency when the mining company had been given the go-ahead. I was one of the leaders. It was a long struggle – and we won! We succeeded in stopping this mining company in our province. But really it is the people’s victory, I just happened to be part of the movement.
This really is an amazing story. Do take a look at the film below:
When asked about the differences between his campaigning work and the work on the rehabilitation programme, Father said,
“Rehabilitation is also really challenging, but you see concrete outputs of your work having an impact so it is more immediately rewarding. In campaigns the work is long, but it is always gratifying and rewarding to see your results. The programme is such a big project so we also need to manage and provide leadership, which is another level. But I’m learning! I’m happy to learn and I love challenges. I do all of this because it is very clear to me that I am in the service of the people. It is part of my ministry.
“We want to see the programme we started being sustained in the future. It should not only be dependent on the availability of funds. This is an opportunity to empower the people and strengthen the organisation and institution. Resilience is the long term goal for these communities.”
Father Edu also told us that the Philippines aims to deliver 10 million signatures for the Global Catholic Climate Movement’s petition (which we of course are promoting here in England and Wales too). 10 million!
Quoted in The Guardian, Father Edu said that the Holy Father’s encyclical provides a ‘clear and unequivocal’ mandate from the church, which has electrified Catholic Filipino environmentalists. Read the full interview here.
Wow! We’re so lucky to meet such awesome leaders from across the world! Thank you to Father Edu for sharing his experiences with us during his visit to the UK.