Asia West Pacific

Speaking Out with Organic Farming Advocates

By Kins Aparece

 Group activity. Photo by: Kins Aparece 

I started to document ways and thought processes of community leaders as they do speak out. Weeks ago, I worked with urban poor leaders in surfacing their concerns and needs. In July, I journeyed with organic farming advocates. Their community is pretty isolated, and they have been on lockdown for five months.

We started with friendship by catching up and asking about how we lived through the pandemic. We practiced stopping and good listening. Sharing in concentric circles on themes about the pandemic and memories about the organization jump-started interactions in the workshop. Incorporating these AVP Cultures of Peace tools with appreciative inquiry allows participants to stay more relaxed and focused.

As a facilitator, I learned to lend my confidence to the participants by staying relaxed and open to support or by offering technical assistance to them. I need to respect the concerns that they pick. The community knows better than I about their concerns. I translated some of their speak out statements:

Together, we do better. Photo by Kins Aparece.

A group doing speak out. Photo by: Kins Aparece

# 1: We are speaking to the dog owners in the community and to our village leaders. 

We saw that dogs freely roamed in our streets causing accidents among motorists by running after the motorbikes. We feel afraid and worried because it is very difficult to be treated at this time of the pandemic, the anti-rabies shots are also very expensive. We truly need for this concern to be addressed properly, especially for dog owners to contain their pets. Also, we ask the leaders and village authorities to enforce relative policies and penalties thoroughly.

# 2: To the rumor mongers (gossipers) who falsely accused our organization as left-leaning or rebels.

We heard a deluge of false accusations raised regarding our group. We felt afraid because the military had built a camp here in our village years ago, and we don’t want to repeat the same situation. We hope that people will stop suspecting our group of being communist rebels. Our members dutifully carry out their tasks and are good human beings. We want local officials to stand up and state that this accusation is false so that this will not affect our membership.

#3: To our village chief.

We heard that Busao Organic Farming Association was not duly recognized by the local village. This is a legitimate program of Farmfirst that helped introduce and train us in organic farming. We feel sad that your lack of recognition damaged the development, livelihoods, and good health of the people in our village. We want the village and church leaders to unite and be one in serving the community.

Note: Kins Aparece wants to connect with anyone interested in finding active ways to engage communities for public change and accountability. Please email: Asia.coordinator@friendspeaceteams.org

The training adapted for the new normal. The participants writing their personal Commitment. Photo by: Kins Aparece