Forests, water, and health discussions in Balay Laudato Si’

The visitors trekked to the village spring box and learnt about the efforts of the Forest and Water Management Team in Bendum to maintain clean water in the community. APC students also learn about the interconnectedness of forest regeneration and clean water supply through their Natural Resource Management classes and internships.

Criselle Mejillano

Fostering solidarity and listening to the most vulnerable sectors in a post-pandemic world are key topics tackled during the Vatican COVID-19 Commission Southeast Asia Task Force workshop held at Balay Laudato Si’ in Bendum, Bukidnon from 3 to 7 October 2022.

The visiting group walked through the forest canopy in Bendum. In the 1970s, the forests were heavily degraded due to logging activities but over the years, the forest canopy slowly formed anew through assisted natural regeneration efforts of the community, especially the youth.

This gathering, facilitated by the Environmental Science for Social Change (ESSC), consolidated a year of listening to discern new ways of forming a new norm. Throughout the year, task force members from various disciplines – environment, public health, academe, and women religious – heard the stories of society’s most vulnerable sectors about their concerns that the pandemic exacerbated.

Malaybalay City Health officials visit the sitio clinic in Bendum

Health officials from the Malaybalay City government also joined the gathering briefly and shared their experiences during the pandemic. There were expressions of gratitude for the service and dedication of the frontline workers as the local health officials talked about the difficulties and challenges in responding to those in need at the height of the pandemic. A short visit to the sitio clinic was also an opportunity for the community in Bendum to share the work they are doing, what their needs are, and the actions needed to respond to their health concerns.

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