With the onset of the possible face-to-face classes this coming school year, the Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 1 (DSWD FO 1) Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS) and SM Foundation Operation Tulong Express (OPTE) programs collaborated in a project through a shoe donation drive.

“We are very grateful that SM Foundation has partnered and chose DSWD FO 1 to become an instrument to help two of the vulnerable sectors in the communities – our women and children,” said DSWD FO 1 Social Welfare and Development Officer IV and Officer-in-Charge Chief of the Specialized Programs Division Virginia P. Sesay.

Children beneficiaries of the SM Foundation OPTE shoe donation from Barangay Licungan in Sugpon, Ilocos Sur pose for a souvenir photo after the distribution activity facilitated by DSWD FO 1 KALAHI-CIDSS personnel. Licungan is an upland barangay that can be reached via four to five hours of hike.

“For less privileged families and their children, these shoes will help them perform their daily routines comfortably and walk to and from school in safety. I hope that this project inspires them to work hard to achieve their dreams in life,” Sesay added.

The identified beneficiaries are the community volunteers, their dependents, and indigent children in the KALAHI-CIDSS areas.

“It is gratifying that the KALAHI-CIDSS program does not only empower our people through the sub-projects that they brought in, but it also considered the personal need of our community,” said Sugpon Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer Christopher Rey Raquepo.

Beneficiaries of the SM Foundation shoe donation at Barangay Banga in Sugpon, Ilocos Sur.

Moreover, Barangay Luna, Mabini community volunteer, and parent leader Lolita L. Bumacod said, “We are surprised because we did not expect this. We would like to thank DSWD FO 1 and SM Foundation for choosing us and our children as beneficiaries of the project.”

More than 1,000 pairs were already distributed at Barangay Sapdaan, Santol in La Union; barangays Licungan, Caoayan, Balbalayang, Banga, Pangotan and Danac in Sugpon, Ilocos Sur; and barangays Villacorta, Luna and Cabanaetan in Mabini, Pangasinan.

Loaded on a bamboo raft, the shoe donation is transported by volunteers crossing the river to reach the beneficiaries residing at Barangay Danac in Sugpon, Ilocos Sur.

Some of the mentioned barangays are geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDA) which can only be accessed through hours of a hike uphill or utilizing bamboo rafts to cross a river.

Other KALAHI-CIDSS areas in the Ilocos Region are lined-up for distribution in July 2022. These are the towns of Basista, Pangasinan; Luna in La Union; and Santa Cruz, Santa Lucia and Sigay in Ilocos Sur.

The success of the project was made possible through the help of the Local Social Welfare and Development Officers (LSWDO) and their service partners such as the Philippine National Police and Bureau of Fire Protection.

Apart from the KALAHI-CIDSS program, women and children from the Haven for Women, The Haven – Regional Center for Children, and Regional Rehabilitation Center for Youth received a donation from OPTE.

It was learned that about 13,000 pairs of shoes are being distributed for this project.

OPTE is a social good program of SM Foundation, which intends to address the needs of communities during calamities and crises. (By: Anne Hazel Fajardo-Flores, Social Marketing Officer III, KALAHI-CIDSS RPMO/ Social Marketing Unit)