Through a young Dumagat’s eyes: COVID-19 brings hunger, sadness

We are very worried and sad because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” uttered Jedidiah, a young member of the Dumagat tribe residing in Tanay, Rizal.

Through her innocent eyes, the current pandemic brings nothing but hunger, sadness, fear, and uncertainty. 

Their schooling was heavily affected by the lockdown, leaving their family worried about her education. In addition to the burden they experience, Jedidiah’s father – who works as a jeepney driver – lost his job.

Her mother Eufemia even recalled that there were times when late at night, they would still worry about how to put food on their table. The crops in their backyard were not enough to sustain their daily needs, let alone provide for other necessities.

“It pains me to see my children endure hunger. Sometimesthey would go to sleep starving. It’s hard to tell them to wait for food because they are still young. They would not understand why,” said Eufemia, who also serves as the tribe leader of the Dumagat community in Tanay.

Their family is one of the hundreds of Dumagat families whose livelihoods were severely affected by the pandemic. Due to the lockdown, they cannot go down the mountainanymore to sell their agricultural products in the town center. Plus, their remote location is one of the main reasons why relief operations do not reach their community.

As much as they want to work hard to provide for their families, opportunities for tribal communities are scarce. These days, their already difficult situation as indigenous people has become even more challenging.

“We are trying to cope and find ways to support our families. However, the COVID-19 and the government protocols for everyone’s safety prevent us from doing so. Because of the pandemic, it’s really difficult for us to provide even the basic needs of our families,” the tribal leader shared.

Livelihoods lost, health risks, while living in a far-flung community – it’s no wonder why little Jedidiah and all other Dumagat children see sadness in the face of COVID-19.

To help ease their burden, the Operation Blessing Foundation Philippines visited their community and distributed much-needed food packs. Dumagat families in Sitio ManggahanDaraitanTanay, in the province of Rizal received rice, canned goods, and other food items.

“I am very grateful to Operation Blessing for reaching out to us. The food pack you gave us is huge help to my family. May God bless you and may you not get tired of helping those who are in need, like us,” Eufemia said.

Hopes lifted, her daughter Jedidiah added, “I am happy because we now have food to eat. Thank you so much, Operation Blessing!”

This National Indigenous Peoples Month, you can help alleviate the hunger and sadness of our indigenous kababayans.

Through your generous giving, you also give them the message that there is hope amid crisis. Your support – whether big or small – shows that no matter the distance, there are people who care and would help them get through this very challenging season.

Are you willing to give hope and light to Filipino tribes?

Bless our indigenous kababayans by partnering with Operation Blessing today. You may donate online, through banks, and via Gcash. For more details on how to donate and sponsor, you may contact 09399215543 or 09189067753.

(DSWD-SB-SP-00029-2019 Nationwide)

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