Building Transformative Healthy Communities; DOC JIMMY SAYS

Article excerpt

Byline: Dr. Jaime T. Galvez tan

With years of practice in empowerment, people power and participation, can community-based organizations work together in partnership to define their own agenda for development of their communities based on their individual advocacies and issues? Can they select leaders who will promote and implement their formulated agenda? And once the leaders are elected to positions of power, can the communities hold them accountable for their action and for promoting their agenda for development?

The answer is yes, poor rural and urban communities can transform and become truly healthy communities. Healthy in the six dimensions of health and wellness, namely: body (economics), mind (politics), soul (spiritual), heart (histo-cultural); hands (social) and feet (environmental).

This was proven when four transformative and healthy communities shared their experiences, struggles and successes last July 5-6 in a National Writeshop attended by NGOs, civil society groups, academe, social scientists, women from communities, local and national government and politicians.

Sponsored by the Center for Asia Pacific Women in Politics (CAPWIP) and funded by the Canadian International Development Agencies, the stories of San Miguel, Bulacan; Zoto of Tondo, Manila; the Bohol Cultural Renaissance Program, and Naga City were showcased and analyzed to draw lessons on how such good practices can be replicated and scaled-up nationwide in the Philippines.

So what is a transformative and healthy community? It is a community of people of common history, culture, interests and shared values, practicing progressive politics and with goals and aspirations for the overall good. Decisions are reached through participatory processes and consensus building. And the members are able to engage the power structures operating in their community and manage the change process.

What are the features of such transformative and healthy communities? They have human rights-based objectives such as the rights to access to productive resources, social services, social justice and social protection. There is principled partnership between civil society, government and the business sector. Community-managed enterprises abound where communities control technologies and culture. They have culture based development and community determined standards of service and leadership. The focus is the total human development of disadvantaged and marginalized sectors. …