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Faith in action: FBOs in social work

Faith in action: FBOs in social work
NASSA/Caritas Philippines Executive Secretary Fr. Edwin Gariguez during his presentation of the faith-based organizations’ disaster risk reduction and humanitarian action. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

MANILA— Representatives from more than 30 different faith-based organizations (FBOs) gathered to reflect on their contributions in humanitarian response and disaster risk reduction during a forum held in Manila on Monday.

In a forum called “Transforming Faith into Action”, representatives from the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA)/Caritas Philippines, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, the Philippine Council of Ecumenical Churches, and World Vision together with more than 30 other organizations  discussed ways on how they could collaborate on humanitarian work.

FBOs are humanitarian relief and development organizations formed by or with a direct or indirect relationship with a specific faith community.

More effective humanitarian response

“With our grassroots network extending from global, regional, national, and local community levels, we are well placed to offer a unique contribution in response to the needs of our people affected by disasters,” said NASSA/Caritas Philippines executive secretary Fr. Edwin  Gariguez, pointing out FBOs’ strengths, which can be maximized for more effective and efficient humanitarian response.

These strengths include FBOs’ sustained presence, inherent link to disaster-affected communities with volunteers coming from affected communities, innate knowledge of the social landscape and culture, and existing infrastructures like churches, which serve as evacuation centers.

He also cited FBOs’ widespread and extensive networks in every corner across the country, making them first responders during emergencies.

“In fact, FBOs are already there before and during the conflict and disasters. And when the international organizations have left the area, the volunteers from faith-based groups remain,” added the priest.

More venues for collaboration  

Gariguez also cited the strong link between faith and disaster risk reduction, which was noticed by international humanitarian organizations, particularly among those affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda.

The forum also became a venue for FBOs to collaborate and discuss challenges in humanitarian response such  as the fear of using aid to push religious agenda.

“We must always remind ourselves that we are driven by our desire to give value to human life rather than to convert them to our faiths. Our humanitarian work is driven by our common humanity,” Gariguez stressed.

FBOs also explored other possible areas for collaboration such as advocacy work on climate change, and other forms of social and economic injustice.

There was also a discussion on improving the current response to the Marawi crisis by putting people at the center, especially following the testimony of an evacuee.

NASSA/Caritas Philippines is the humanitarian, development, and advocacy arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. CBCPNews