What a heartwarming sight. A whole community working together to better themselves and improve their living conditions. That’s what I witnessed today when I again visited with the Ati – a local indigenous people – here in Malay, Aklan, Panay, Philippines.
Dozens of men, women, and children assembled at the crack of dawn to pull and hang some 1,200 meters of electric cable which will soon bring electric service to their mountain villages.
We first met and wrote about the Ati last week. Similar to American Indians, they are a marginalized native people who exist on the fringe of modern Philippine society. There are hundreds of Ati living on a kind of ‘reservation’ inland from our beach resort apartment where we are currently waiting out the global pandemic.
The recent COVID-19 lockdown has devastated already-meager Ati incomes. And and a prior typhoon damaged some of their community infrastructure. The Earth Vagabonds have become involved in a number of ways to try to help.
What I saw today was hopefully a kind of ‘warm up’ to more progress that will be made in coming weeks.
Ati community projects: Electricity
The electric project had been on hold during the virus lockdown. But today, the Ati chief, Ernesto, walked me along the mountain path that the wire follows – shouting instruction and encouragement to his people as they yanked and passed the heavy cable through the jungle trees and bush.
The local electric company, AKELCO, which supplied the wire wrapped around steel cable, will now come to inspect the installation and do the connecting, metering, and other finishing work.
In fact, the three-quarters-of-a-mile cable is still a little short on each end. At the top, near the Ati village plaza, the wire ends at tree a few hundred feet from a cluster of homes it will serve. And the bottom end too will have to be ‘adjusted’ by AKELCO.
Still, seeing the teamwork and dedication of the whole Ati community – volunteering on a Sunday morning – was an unforgettable sight. Of course, I can hardly comprehend living without electricity until 2020 either. But the scene gave me confidence in the success of other upcoming Ati projects that we are sponsoring with the help of various financial donors.
Next: Water supply & chickens
Starting tomorrow, work will begin on rebuilding the chicken/hen house that was destroyed in the Christmas Day, 2019 typhoon. And one Ati family will be traveling to the provincial capital, Kalibo, for crucial medical treatment. Beyond that, there are several phases of drinking water system improvements to be made.
When I left the Ati early this afternoon, they had wrapped up the Sunday work and were gathering for a community lunch – as is the custom. We’ll be seeing a lot more of them in coming days/weeks. And we look forward to sharing here the details of what transpires with the electric service and the other various community improvement projects. Stay tuned.
As always, be thankful and generous, happy trails & more beer.
Life is NOW!
Thanks for reading, “Ati community projects will improve lives.”
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