LEGAZPI CITY, May 28 (PNA) -- Australian Embassy officials headed by Ambassador David Dutton visited on Monday and Tuesday the projects that the Australian government has funded in the Bicol Region through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
With Dutton were Rosella Agcaoili, senior program officer, and Robyn Piti, counselor for peace and education.
The three Australian Embassy officials went to Pilar and Donsol towns in Sorsogon and Barangay Bitano in Legazpi City where they interviewed community-implementers and beneficiaries of the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS), Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), the social protection programs of DSWD, which have been long supported by the Australian government.
The Australian officials personally observed how these programs/projects are being implemented and converged at the community level and how these contributed to the growth and personal development of the recipients.
The foreign visitors learned directly from the beneficiaries and implementers of the community being served by the DSWD.
The visit provided the guests with an opportunity to personally see for themselves the positive impact of the Australian-funded projects, according to DSWD-Bicol Regional Director Arnel Garcia.
“In particular, I’ve learned that the community-driven development approach (of KALAHI CIDSS) is really interesting. This is new to me because I’m still learning our work here,” Dutton said.
Moreover, the senior Australian Embassy officials were able to observe the conduct of the Family Development Session (FDS) and interact with the beneficiaries in Barangay Esperanza, Pilar, and Barangay Pangpang in Donsol.
The also interviewed the community implementers on how they managed and constructed the Australian-supported day care centers and school buildings under the KALAHI-CIDSS project in the same barangays.
“Our dream to get a KALAHI-CIDSS project came true. We now have a clean and orderly day care center,” said Marites Triñanes, a Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary.
The Australian government through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) has already provided a total grant of P45.3 million to complete the construction of 45 school buildings and day care centers, benefiting 14,597 household-beneficiaries in seven municipalities in Bicol.
These municipalities are Pilar and Donsol in Sorosogn; Claveria, Cataingan and Palanas in Masbate; and Manito and Rapu-Rapu in Albay, which previously implemented the KALAHI-CIDSS; however, certain communities were not prioritized under the project.
Dutton personally thanked the communities they visited during the two-day trip in Bicol.
“It is great to come to a classroom and see what real difference it makes to people’s lives,” he said.
The Australian government played a fundamental role in the inception of the 4Ps in 2008 and has continuously provided support in further enhancing the implementation of the Program.
As part of the exit strategy for the 4Ps beneficiaries, Australia has likewise supported SLP to help ensure that families will be able to continue the education of their children. (PNA) LGI/FGS/EPS/CBD/UTB