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KBI/Tzu Mission to Afghanistan and Cambodia

Update #3 - June 28th, 2002

Greetings from Mindanao, Philippine Islands.

Yesterday, we flew to Cagayan de Oro on the southern island of Mindanao, and then took a 2.5 hour drive to the West to Iligan City. We met with representative of the Lanao Foundation. Lanao del Norte (LDN) is the name of the province where we spent the day today, and will spend our day tomorrow.

We had a very active day. We were escorted by the director of the foundation, Dr. Elmer Sayre, and his assistants, Vangie Ontiveros and Mitzi Nacalaban.

First we went to the office of the foundation in Bacolod. There we saw the working of several of the projects that they have under way. For example, their projects include assistance for the communities in drinking water projects, sanitation projects, reforestation, rehabilitation, medical assistance, and a unique buffalo micro-enteprise program.

SAPAD: We visited the town of Sapad, where we saw two of the water distribution projects. Water is not readily available in many of the low lying village towns and the people walk great distances to gather water from open reservoirs or from rivers. This program collects water from underground springs in the high hill areas, distributing the water through piping systems down to a catchment structure in the village. All of the water movement is gravity fed, and the village residents come to the catchment structure to collect water for their homes. The Lanao Foundation has several of these projects in operation. While we were there, we visited a Muslim school and mosque in the area that had no water. We dedicated the funds there that will allow the foundation to build an extension of an existing catchment system to the mosque and the school. Construction is scheduled to start on this project next week.

SUSO: We visited Suso, in the township of Kapatagan. At this site, the villagers had already prepared a ceremonial tree planting function, where all of the members of our team planted a young mahogany tree. Even though they only had 24 hours' notice of our arrival, the villagers had erected a sign welcoming us, and arranged this ceremony to show their dedication to reforestation.

While there we met with the leaders and residents of the village to see what other needs they have. They are in an unusual situation relative to water, since they are on top of a large hill. No water runs down to them. They have been required to walk about 3 km each way to a spot in a river where they can fetch water.

We agreed jointly to work with the Lanao Foundation where they will determine the feasibility of drilling a well. They think the water table is down about 400 feet, but they will have to confirm this. If water is confirmed, Knightsbridge will furnish the pump and electrical equipment to bring the water up to the surface, based on a plan that would have the provincial government provide the well drilling. We will be meeting with the governor of the province tomorrow to pursue this plan. It is expected that the costs of this support will be approximately $2,000.

The villagers there explained that due to the distance of the nearest medical help, they often have to carry people that are sick for several hours to receive attention. On several occasions, the patients have died in route. They walk because certain families do not have access to vehicles or fuel for the trip. Knightsbridge established a modest revolving fund, to be administered by Lanao Foundation, so that money is available for the sick to be transported.

Additionally, Knightsbridge will define and purchase an emergency medical kit for the community with items for first aid and immediate relief. It is expected that this medical emergency kit will cost about $500. This will be in place within the week.

The town has a basketball court (it seemed as though every town we went through had basketball courts) but no balls or sports supplies. Knightsbridge will arrange to have assorted sports equipment delivered to the town tomorrow.

The village let us know of their need for books in their school. We will look into providing books from donations in the United States.

>From SUSO, we made our way to San Vicente. There Dr. Sayre walked us through the details of his buffalo micro-credit program. The Lanao Foundation, some years ago, established a program whereby a farmer could purchase a water buffalo on credit. The payments were set to where the farmer could make his monthly payment by hiring himself and his buffalo out to others in approximately 2 days' work. The beauty of this buffalo program is that the payments are structured to where the buffalo is the property of the farmer in 3 years or less, yet the buffalo has a normal life span of 50 to 60 years. As part of the deal, Lanao Foundation gets the first 2 offspring from the buffalo to be put back into the program. Little by little, this program has grown from just a handful of animals to where they now have over 700 buffalo in the program, with a demand for many, many more.

Knightsbridge met with Dr. Sayre and came up with a plan, now called Operation Buffalo. To start off the operation, Knightsbridge is donating 10 buffalo at a cost of $250 each to the program. A donor program willl be set up by Knightsbridge and the Lanao Foundation to where donors can contribute the costs for one or more buffalo. Special medals will be struck and produced in the province. A donor of 2 buffalo will receive a bronze medal, 5 donated buffalo will result in a silver medal, and a gold medal will be awarded to a donor of 10 or more buffalo. The details of this program will be worked out over the next few days, but it is anticipated the first 10 animals, donated by Knightsbridge will be purchased within the week.

The distances between these towns required about a 1 hour drive between each one, so this was a fairly long, but very productive day here in Mindanao.

Photographs attached to this update include:

  • 3346 - Dr. Sayre showing Ed Artis a map of the areas we will be visiting.
  • 3368 - The muslim school where we will be providing a water system next week.
  • 3372 - A picture of a completed water catchment project.
  • 3387 - Knightsbridge and Lanao Foundation teams with the Knightsbridge Forest sign.
  • 3404 - Ed, Walt, Mike and others at the tree planting ceremony.
  • 3408 - Picture of a water buffalo in the microcredit buffalo program.

Tomorrow promises to be similarly productive.

Until next time....

Ed Artis, Walt Ratterman, Adrian Belic, and Michael Mische
Knightsbridge International Iligan City, Mindanao Island, Philippine Islands
June 28th, 2002

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