In the coastal community of San Jose, Victor Mendoza, a community leader, is spearheading a very interesting initiative. Mendoza is involved with worm farming – also known as vermiculture. His involvement in vermi culture is one of the ways this leader is looking to improve the community around him.
It is the rainy season here in Camarines Sur, and the ground was damp and soft as Victor lead us around his small property, showing off the small worm bed he has carefully crafted after much resourceful research. Wiggling around as he dug his hands through the soil were African Night Crawler Worms, hidden just below the surface of the bed.
Victor lives with his wife, Laura, and his two children in a small home in the barangay of Dulo, in the municipality of San Jose, one of the four target areas of the EMBRACE project. Victor and his family have been living here for about 13 years, and to make money the family cooks and sells foods on the side of the road not too far away from where they live.
Previously Victor had held the position of barangay councilor, a position within the local government here in the Philippines. That sense of responsibility to his community has stayed with Victor, and influences strongly his drive to be involved with vermi culture.
Victor is interested in finding ways of adding additional income to his family through worm farming, something that also will improve the environment around him and his neighbours in this seaside barangay (community) nearly a ten hour bus ride away from Manila.
When he saw on TV the power of worm farming as a method of producing organic fertilizer, he decided to get involved. He initially relied on the help of colleagues during his studies in farming at a local university, as well as using resources on social media to gain even further knowledge.
Victor’s involvement in the project both as a community leader and as a father, is also an important part of the involvement of households in becoming active partners in learning kitchen gardening skills to improve the health and nutrition of women and children within remote communities in Camarines Sur.
“It is my vision to help the people, not only in the barangay (community), but encourage the people all over San Jose to engage in vermi culture, because there is too much garbage,” he explained as he proudly showed his worms in the front of his house.
“One of my dreams is to produce vermi for the entire San Jose. And to encourage them to use it, especially on their rice production,” Victor stated, noting that worms produce some of the best organic fertilizer in the world, making it a more ecologically sound way for households to grow fruits and vegetables.
The EMBRACE project in Camarines Sur is focused on improving maternal and child health in remote communities in this province. Many of the communities here see high rates of malnutrition, and the need for greater access to nutritious foods and greater understandings around how this will improve the lives of women and children within their community.
“Encouraging the people around me is so important, because it can help them to eliminate their garbage. We can also help their finances,” Victor explained, as the worms wriggled around in his hands.
“I think ADRA is a blessing in this barangay, and I know that during the duration of their project that many people will be encouraged to participate and more people will apply the things that they have learned,” Victor added with a wide smile, stating that he had big hopes for the work that EMBRACE will do here in San Jose.
The project will be reaching beneficiaries in the Philippines, Cambodia, Myanmar and Rwanda until 2020. The Philippine’s portion of the EMBRACE project is a multi-pronged partnership between ADRA Canada, ADRA Philippines and Global Affairs Canada.