Fr Oliver McCrossan, who founded the charity Pedalling to Live, and Virgie O. Vidad who co-ordinates the programme in the Philippines, write about the impact of Covid-19 on the lives of some those they help.
I met Felmar Tano and her mother Elma Tano way back in 2011. He is a child with cerebral palsy, but his disability has not hindered his dream of continuing his studies.
Now in grade six, despite the pandemic, Felmar was able to take part in online classes with the full support of his family. His mother is a seaweed grower (locally called guso or agal agal) and his father is a tricycle driver.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic many people, especially those who are daily wage earners, were severely affected in terms of food security and food safety.
One of the initiatives of the Pedalling to Live programme is sustainable organic urban vegetable production not only to combat hunger but also to augment people’s incomes.
The concept is to develop a sustainable community where people are given the opportunity to learn and engage in planting organic vegetables.
A group of seaweed growers in Barangay Annex, Ozamiz City together with Felmar’s family are now involved in the growing of organic vegetables in this coastal area. Our ethos is FAITH (Food Always In The Home).
Felmar and his mother together with their 10 neighbours attended the training on organic vegetable production at the Pedalling Eco farm last month utilising containers and foliar production with seaweed, fermented fruit juice and bio pesticides.
Felmar and his mother Elma decided to develop a small garden at the back of their house using bamboo containers for their plants. Composting vegetable waste, seaweed and other waste from their kitchen is one source of garden soil. They just add a little rice hay compost where they get it from the rice field.
The Pedalling project helps by providing seeds and training in different technology on urban gardening.
The family are happy with the results of their hard work – especially as they are now selling their lettuce. This project is not just giving them a livelihood but educating them in the importance of caring the environment through organic technology by not using chemicals for the plants and the importance of recycled materials instead of throwing empty bottles in the ocean.
The results serve as an inspiration to other families living in the coastal areas, showing them how to become more creative and resourceful to survive.