Providing humanitarian assistance to Lumad schoolchildren

Apple Davalos, Information Officer, Commission on Human Rights (CHR) | Awardee, Australia Awards Scholarships

2020 Davalos Apple Photo.jpgProviding humanitarian assistance to Lumad schoolchildren

Apple Davalos
Master of Digital Information Management, University of Technology Sydney
Information Officer, Commission on Human Rights (CHR)

Apple Davalos leads a group of fellow Australia Awards alumni in providing immediate humanitarian assistance to the Lumad school children and teachers who are currently residing at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman campus. Apple met these children in 2019 when they sought refuge at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) where she is working. These children fled to Manila from Mindanao due to the widespread human rights violations in their community, primarily the series of forced closures of their Salugpungan schools (Lumad schools) in Davao Region. During the COVID-19 crisis, Apple found out that the children were left to fend for themselves during the Metro Manila community quarantine. She immediately contacted the volunteer Lumad schoolteacher to find out how they can help, and one phone call led to a massive donation drive called da'gap. This Manobo term means "to hurry somewhere to help because of an urgent crisis". 

Quotation Image-01.png

During the lockdown, I found out that the kids are in dire need of help as they do not have enough supply of necessities, access to primary health care, transportation, and necessary internet connection.

I contacted my Australia Awards batchmates and proposed the idea to launch a donation drive for the displaced Lumad schoolchildren. With just a genuine desire to help, we jumpstarted the initiative even without a concrete plan. Within three days, we were able to deliver the first batch of donations to the kids in UP. The initiative is continuing.

The plight of the Lumad schoolchildren and the indigenous peoples of the Philippines, in general, is an issue that I am personally passionate about. Apart from their continuous struggle against land dispossession and disenfranchisement, ' 'they're faced with additional burdens by being internally displaced, indigenous, and children in poverty. I know that the fight for genuine and full recognition of their rights is still a long way to go, but for now, we are compelled to respond to an urgent humanitarian need.

In my line of work, I am continuously amazed by individuals and organisations who go out of their way to rescue individuals and provide redress to victims of human rights violations. These vulnerable individuals are usually left with limited or no access to justice at all. I salute all the generous souls who dedicate their energy, time, safety, among others, to make other people's lives better.

Quotation Image right 01.png