Saturday, September 19, 2015

KMI, KMMC Hold Retreat

Members of the Kaibigang Maaasahan Multi-purpose Cooperative (KMMC) and staff of the Kaibigan Ministry Inc. (KMI) had a blessed time of worshiping, praying together, and sharing testimonies and life stories during a recent retreat. A majority of the cooperative members are transformed former street dwellers.

The retreat, which had the theme Out of Darkness based on Colossians 11:20, was held at the Pranjetto Hills Resort in Tanay, Rizal on August 31 - September 2, 2015. It was the first event of its kind for the two ministries.

Both the KMMC and KMI are organizations of the Center for Community (CCT) Group of Ministries. KMI ministers to street dwellers through such programs as feeding, spiritual development, skills training, and job placement. KMMC is the first cooperative in the Philippines whose members are current and former street dwellers. It is also joined by CCT construction workers and by staff of the CCT Tagaytay Retreat and Training Center.  KMMC is engaged in income-generating projects such as construction, farming, printing, janitorial work, general housekeeping and messenger services.

Attendees  kneel in prayer  during
the retreat's first evening.   
A former street dweller worships the Lord.

Pastor Doy Castillo of Bread from Heaven Christian
Fellowship speaks on stepping out of darkness.

Christian businessman Dick Ang speaks on staying
in the light after one has stepped out of the darkness. 
Ruth Callanta, president and founder of  CCT, 
acknowledges retreat staff and speakers. Earlier, she
 spoke on God's plan for humanity.

Here and next two photos: breakout sessions for
 small group sharing.

Here and in next photo:  former street dwellers
share testimonies of how the Lord transformed their lives.

Photos: Jerome Estarez

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Kaibigan Village Lots Distributed

Corazon Triumpo claps her hands with joy after a housing lot she and her husband specifically prayed for
is assigned to her.

Six families who used to be street dwellers in Manila can now start to build their own homes after being assigned housing lots at the Kaibigan Village 6 in Cabanatuan City.  The families are beneficiaries of the Kaibigan Ministry of the Center for Community Transformation (CCT) Group of Ministries.  (Kaibigan is the Filipino word for friend. At CCT it is also used to refer to street dwellers.) 

The families were each allotted 500 square meters of land on which to build their homes and raise vegetables and poultry or other animals for food. 

The distribution of the lots was done during a thanksgiving celebration on December 30, 2014 of members of the Kaibigang Maaasahan Multi-purpose Cooperative (KMMC), the first cooperative in the Philippines composed largely of former or current street dwellers.

Former street dwellers qualified to receive a lot are legally married couples who have been KMMC members for at least five years and who were not subject to any disciplinary action during that period. Workers of the KMMC construction services unit will help the couples build their homes.      

Ruth Callanta, CCT president and founder, said that the Kaibigan Ministry is the answer to a long-held deep and personal desire to reach out to street dwellers, and the answer to prayer during a visit to a prayer facility in South Korea in 2001. She said the Biblical basis for the ministry is Prophet Ezekiel’s vision in which a valley of dry bones came together, developed flesh and skin, began breathing and stood up as a living army. “The way I understand this vision is that street dwellers will be provided with food and livelihood, will be taught the Word of God, will come to know the Living God, and will have new life.”  

She also recounted how the Kaibigan Ministry officially started with a feeding program for street dwellers in November 2005, then moved on to disciple men and provide them with jobs which began with their building of a fence around a piece of property in Tagaytay.  She said that as skills of the men in painting, plumbing, and carpentry grew, they also worked on construction projects in Magdalena, Laguna, and built two buildings at the Tagaytay Retreat and Training Center. 

Mrs. Callanta explained that the piece of land that will soon be a residential village for former street dwellers is just one of nine non-contiguous lots donated to the Kaibigan Ministry, beginning with a one-hectare piece of land referred to now as KV (Kaibigan Village) 1. “The Lord showed me that this could be the new home of street dwellers.”  She said that Kaibigan Villages 1 to 5 and 8 and 9 are to be used for the common raising of cash crops or livestock, while Kaibigan Villages 6 and 7 will be for housing. A portion of the properties will also be used as memorial plots.

Ruth Callanta, CCT president and founder, recounts the
history of the Kaibigan Ministry. 

Dennis and Grace listen intently as qualifications for home
ownership at the Kaibigan Village are explained.
They hope to be among the next group of couples to receive
a housing lot. 
Arlene Diel reads names of Kaibigans eligible to receive a housing lot.
Zaldy Lugay, head of the Kaibigang Maaasahan
Multi-purpose Cooperative Construction Services,
displays a vicinity map of Kaibigan Village 6
 subdivided into housing lots measuring
1000 square meters.  The
village will eventually be home to 46 families each
assigned 500 square meters on which to build their
homes and raise livestock and vegetables.

Edwin Agcopra, with his son by his side, draws the
number of the lot where he can soon build a home for
his family, then watches as Zaldy Lugay marks the
spot on a vicinity map.  Edwin, a transformed
former street dweller, is proof that the vicious cycles of
poverty, crime, and homelessness can be broken
by the power of God. 

KMMC and KMI management, staff, and
beneficiaries,and Ruth Callanta (below)
pray that the residents of
Kaibigan Village 6 will be a
blessing to their
 surrounding community
and will bring glory to God.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Former Street Dweller Hopes to Minister to Prisoners

Willy Ada (center) takes part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony.  Also in photo are Geoff Osborne
 of the Wholistic Transformation Resource Center, Nestor Siddayao of KMMC, 
Goldy Valdellon of CCT's savings program, and pupils of the Visions of Hope Christian School. 

Willy  shares his testimony.Photo: Roselyne Ko &
Therese Keirulf of WTRC
Note:  A former street dweller transformed by the grace of God had the honor of sharing his testimony and taking part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony during the recent dedication and opening of the Payatas Community Center in Quezon City.  Here is his story:

Ako po si Brother Willy Ada, 43 years old, binata, at lingkod ng Diyos sa CCT – KMMC.

I am Brother Willy Ada, 43, single, a servant of the Lord at CCT-KMMC (Center for Community Transformation-Kaibigang Maaasahan Multi-purpose Cooperative.) 

Bago po ako napunta sa KMMC, sa kalye lamang ako madalas manigilan.  Ito na ang itinuring kong tahanan.  Wala akong permanenteng trabaho noon, kaya madalas akong nakatambay lamang noon.

Before I joined KMMC I lived on the street.  It was my home.  I did not have a permanent job and spent my days just bumming around.

Sa ganitong kalagayan, mayroon palang laging nakatingin sa akin mula sa kaitaasan.  Ang mahabaging Dios na minsan rin ay bumaba sa lupa.

But someone was watching over me -- a compassionate God who one day long ago came down from heaven to the world. 

Minsan isang araw, dinala Niya ako sa isang feeding sa lugar ng Kalaw sa Manila. Doon ko nakilala ang lingkod ng Diyos sa CCT na ang pangalan ay Angel.  Naglakas loob akong magtanong kung may maitutulong ba sila sa pangangailangan ko sa trabaho.  Noong araw na iyon ay wala pang tugon ngunit pagkaraan ng isang linggo, ipinagkaloob ng Diyos ang panalangin ko.  Inilagay ako ng Diyos sa Tagaytay upang paglingkuran ko siya.

He led me one day to Kalaw St. in Manila where a feeding session was going on.  I got to know Angel, who worked with the Center for Community Transformation. I gathered the courage to ask if he would be able to find a job.  In a week I received the answer to my prayer.  I was given a job in Tagaytay where I could serve Him. 

SIPAG 2 and KMMC construction workers sing: "Parang  kailan lang, ang mga pangarap ko'y
 kay hirap abutin. Dahil sa inyo napunta ako aking dapat marating. Nais ko kayong
pasalamatan kahit man lang sa awitin."
Photo: Roselyne Ko &  Therese Keirulf of WTRC
Napakalaki ng naging kaibahan ng buhay ko sa kalye noon, kumpara sa buhay ko sa CCT  KMMC  ngayon.  Masasabi ko na naging maayos ang buhay ko ngayon.  Una ay hindi na ako pinagkukulang Diyos sa aking pangangailangan.  Mas lalong naging masigasig ako sa pagsunod sa Panginoon sa pamamagitan ng pag-aaral ng Kanyang mga Salita at pagsasabuhay nito.  Natutuo akong magpakumbaba at pagpasakop sa mga namamahala.

My life today is vastly different from my life on the street.  God provides all that I need.  I've become more obedient to God as I study His Word and live it out.  I've learned to submit to authorities. 

Nakikita ko sa aking sarili pagdating ng panahon, loobin ng Diyos ay magpatuloy ako sa paghayo upang ipatotoo ang Magandang Balita ng pagliligtas ni Jesu-Kristo sa mga tao.  Lalo na sa mga piitan, hanggang sa mga kalye na pinaninigilan ng mga halos itinakwil na ng lipunan.   Mangyari nawa!  Sa Diyos ang papuri!

I see myself still serving the Lord in the future, sharing the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ in jails and on the street which is home to outcasts of society.  To God be the glory! 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Misheil Oga's Reunion Story

Misheil Oga (in gray shirt): reunited with her parents after 13 years of separation. 

 Hi!  My name is Misheil.  Thirteen years ago I left my home in the Bicol region, hoping to make a better life for myself in Manila. I was just 16 then. Like many other young probinsiyanas with little education, I found a job as a maid.  My employer, however, was abusive. I couldn't stand the abuse so I ran away. Because I had nowhere else to go, I ended up living on the street.

I met Billy Oga on the street and soon we began living together. To be able to buy food, we scrounged through trash for recyclables that we then sold to junk shops. We worked hard and I can say with my head high that we never stole anything to feed ourselves or our children.

About five years ago we met workers of the Kaibigan Ministry. They told us about Jesus and His love for the poor. They also helped us acquire a bicycle with a side car through a rent-to-own agreement.  The pedicab made work so much easier because Billy and I didn't have to carry sacks of recyclables anymore, we didn't have to walk, and the children could ride along with us as well.

All those years on the street I never ever thought I would get to wear a wedding dress and get married in a formal ceremony, but Billy and I were among several couples married in a lovely wedding ceremony -- not just anywhere but in Tagaytay!

A little while after that we were brought to the Kaibigan Village in Nueva Ecija where other families who also used to live on the street were starting new lives.  It was good to be back in a rural setting.  Since Billy had grown up doing farm work in his own province, it was easy adjusting to farm life again.  But soon I began growing homesick and I yearned to be back in my own province.  We knew other street people  had been reunited with their families in the Kaibigan Ministry's Balik-probinsiya program and we asked if we could also be blessed this way.

Earlier this year, thank God, I got to go home, along with Billy and our three children.   My parents thought they would never see me again.  We had a tearful reunion...and I was home to stay.

Billy and I thank God that the Kaibigan Ministry didn't just provide us with bus tickets, but two of the staff, Kuya Angel and Pastor Jun, actually accompanied us home. We were also given a little money to use to start a small business.  (We have decided to raise and fatten hogs.)  We continue to trust in God. We know that He loves us and will always do.  

Misheil with husband, Billy, and children at the
bus station, excited to be going home. 

Home at last!

The Oga family with
Kaibigan Ministry worker, Angel Diel (seated)...

...and with Misheil's family and Pastor Jun Tolentino. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Kaibigan Ministry Holds Lupang Pangako Groundbreaking Ceremony

Ceremonially breaking the ground (left to right): Pastor Reinard Manahan, special projects
 manager at the Wholistic Transformation Resource Center; multi-awarded Filipino scientist Dr. 
Bonifacio Comandante Jr ; former Allied Banker Mr. Leonso Pe, husband of Kaibigan Ministry Inc. 
(KMI)  trustee Julie Pe; Zaldy Lugay, head of Kaibigang Maaasahan Multipurpose
 Cooperative Construction Services; Angel Diel of KMI; Ariston Balala, general manager of 
Kawanggawa Primary Multi-purpose Cooperative  and
 Rachel Baguilat  of CCT's Business Development Services unit. 

Rosemarie Abaya of the Cabanatuan City agriculture and livelihood management office, representing
Cabanatuan Mayor Jay Vergara, lowers into the ground a time capsule containing a Bible,
a copy of the vision and mission of the Kaibigan Ministry, a copy of the ground breaking ceremony program,
and a blueprint of the site development plan. Looking on is KMI president Ruth Callanta. 
Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija – A groundbreaking ceremony for the Lupang Pangako project of the Center for Community Transformation (CCT) Kaibigan Ministry Inc. (KMI) was held here on May 10, 2014.  The housing development project benefits transformed former street dwellers being served by KMI.

KMI President Ruth Callanta said Lupang Pangako is the beginning of the fulfillment of the vision in Isaiah 65:21 and 24: “They will build houses and live there. They will plant vineyards and eat fruit from them. Before they call, I will answer. While they're still speaking, I will hear.”

Pioneer beneficiaries of the project are five couples who used to live on the streets of Manila, who expressed interest in doing agricultural work, and who have lived in one of the Kaibigan villages in Cabanatuan for more than a year. "Matagal-tagal din po namin pinangarap ang magkaroon ng sariling bahay," said Edwin Agcopra who was a street dweller from his youth. "Maraming salamat sa Panginoon!"  (I thank the Lord for this! Owning a house we can call our own is a long-held dream.) 

The project site is Kaibigan Village 7 in Kalikid, Cabanatuan City where the five couples and their children will be allocated 1,000 square meter lots per family for housing and livelihood. They will pay for the lot on easy terms and will be assisted in building their houses by the Kaibigang Maaasahan Multipurpose Cooperative construction services. 

“Someday this place will be filled with green trees, and people who live here will themselves eat the fruit of trees they planted,” Ruth Callanta said. “Most importantly, they will have a good relationship with God and with one another.” 

She reminded the beneficiaries and guests gathered for the event that businesses will eventually rise on the site and will be sources of income provided by God.  “But the question is, will we be faithful to God for the long-term?  Are we willing to work with our hands to bring this vision to fulfillment?”  she asked. 

KMI ministers to street dwellers initially through evangelistic Bible studies and a feeding program held on the streets.  Follow up programs to help transition them back to mainstream society include skills training, education, job placement and enterprise development  intertwined with discipleship and spiritual development.

Mrs. Callanta explained that the Kaibigan Ministry now owns a total of 23 non-contiguous hectares of land in Cabanatuan City, beginning with a one hectare piece of land donated several years earlier. All these will eventually be developed into projects and structures for the benefit of former street dwellers, she said. 

Pastor Seymour Meman, CCT spiritual development worker for the provinces of Nueva Ecija and Pangasinan said in his dedication message: “All the earth belongs to God. This community will be a God-fearing community. People in the surrounding areas will see the difference in the lives of the members of this community.”

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Kaibigans Share Stories at TEE Opening Night

Frankie Libre, former street dweller, tells of the changes in his
life resulting from having come to know the Lord Jesus Christ.  

Former street dweller Nida Charcos  (left) shares her testimony, with  Angelito Gabriel, executive officer of CCT Inc.,
serving as translator. 

Frankie Libre and Nida Charcos, former street dwellers, shared the stories of their changed lives during opening night of the third Transformative Economic Empowerment (TEE), an international training session for micro finance workers.  The TEE attendees are from Peru, India, Moldova, Zambia, Kenya, Sri Lanka Thailand, Uganda, and the US.

Frankie told of life on the street, his having to steal to survive,  his being involved with drugs, and of coming to know the Lord Jesus Christ through the Kaibigan Ministry (KM) of the Center for Community Transformation (CCT).  Frankie is now a worker with the KM himself. 

Nida, who was homeless and lived on the streets with her daughters for three months, spoke of God’s goodness to her by providing her with a steady job as one of the service staff at the CCT support office.  She said she will soon be a homeowner because her application for housing assistance was approved by Pag-Ibig, the government’s home development fund. (Read her full story here:   

The Kaibigan Ministry has ministered to street dwellers since 2005.  The work, which began with street side Bible studies and feeding sessions, has grown into several programs and services that  include evangelism, discipleship, and counselling,  skills training and job placement, family reunification, children’s education, resettlement, access to social services, and membership in a cooperative composed mainly of former street dwellers.   

TEE is a joint activity of CCT and the Ka-Partner network, a consortium of US-based organizations ministering to the poor.  The founding members of the network are endPoverty, Five Talents, Hope International, and Peer Servants.  The training session allows the sharing of CCT’s best practices and stories, benefitting the poor of other nations.   The theme of this gathering, held during the third week of October 2013, was leadership and vision, and spiritual integration in micro finance. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Nida Charcos Story

Nida Charcos shares a light moment with her mother. 
Nida was just 12 when she left her home in a faraway village of Bohol without explaining why.  She eventually found her way to Manila where, for the next 15 years, she worked at a series of low-paying jobs:   dishwasher at roadside eateries, housemaid, sari-sari store helper.

Mistake. She heard the Gospel and gave her life to God during a church Bible study when she was 17, but at 21, Nida made the mistake of marrying a man who turned out to be an abusive alcoholic and a womanizer.  Three children were born to them before his other woman had him shot dead after he refused to leave Nida for her.  “Honestly, I felt relieved with his passing,”  Nida admits. “Life with him was pure misery.”  The lowest point in her life came when her mother-in-law threw her and her daughters out of a house she had helped pay for.  There was nowhere to go but the streets. 

Survival. Nida and her daughters spent three months on busy streets near Rizal Park in Manila.  To survive, she sold small items that pedestrians stop to buy, like cigarettes, candy, and crackers. “Despite everything, the Lord was watching out for us because I never had to succumb to crime to feed my children, the way other street dwellers do,” she says.

She met staff of CCT’s Kaibigan Ministry in 2005 when she attended one of their feeding and Bible study sessions. This was a turning point.  A few months later she was among the first group of street dwellers invited by KM to stay at its halfway house. There, Nida renewed her relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and started attending discipleship sessions. Later on she was offered work as service staff at CCT’s support office on Taft Avenue, Manila, and she gladly accepted.   

Regaining Contact. One of the Kaibigan Ministry’s many programs involves reuniting street dwellers with their families.  Kaibigan staff and Nida’s co-workers encouraged her to write home. (Her family back in Bohol had long ago given her up for dead.) She wrote home, jotting down as recipient’s address a village name she remembered from more than two decades ago.  Surprisingly, the letter found its way to her sisters without much trouble and in much shorter time than everyone expected.  Soon the family was catching up by cell phone calls and text messages:  both her parents were still alive; all her sisters had completed high school, one of them lived in Pampanga, close to Manila.

A Secret Revealed. Finally, in February 2013, 24 years after she had last seen her parents and sisters, Nida got on a plane to Bohol for a much-dreamed of week-long reunion. One quiet evening, she finally told her mother why she had left home:  two male members of their extended family had been making sexual advances. Knowing what could possibly happen, and knowing no one would believe her, Nida said she chose to slip away and cause the least trouble for everyone.  Mother and daughter spent several minutes sobbing on each other’s shoulders.     

Back in Manila, Nida expresses thanks for the way her life has turned out: she has a steady job, her children are in school and not on the street, she has a new husband and son, she has found a caring family among CCT staff.  “God is good,” she says, with tears forming in her eyes. 

Nida, with her husband and son, reunited with her parents after 24 years of separation. 

Tearful farewell.

Nida and her sister were not yet in their teens when Nida ran
away from home. 
James hugs his grandmother goodbye at the end of a
week-long visit.

Nida shares a last meal  with cousins before
she returns to Manila with her husband and son. 
 James Charcos, born in the age of 
handheld electronic 
games, feels the grooves in a rough,
homemade sungka board in his mother's 
home province.