This reflection is from Unbound Managing Editor Loretta Shea Kline, with a contribution by Unbound Social Media Coordinator Ashley Griffin.
“The right of each person to participate fully in society, to have adequate food and housing, to have the opportunity to get an education and to develop their talents is inherent to each person’s dignity as a child of God.” That passage is from Unbound’s core value on “Dignity of the Person,” and it speaks in part to the human need for self-determination.
Indigenous groups aim to gain recognition of their identities, ways of life, and rights to traditional lands and natural resources, but have historically faced discrimination, the U.N. said in its promotion of International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, observed annually on Aug. 9.
There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people worldwide. While they make up less than 5% of the global population, according to the U.N., they comprise 15% of those with the fewest economic resources. Unbound works with indigenous communities around the world, recognizing their considerable contributions, such as care for the environment and preservation of cultures.
As a member of the Dumagat indigenous community in the Philippines, 66-year-old Remegia didn’t have access to formal education growing up. Now she and her classmates of all ages are learning how to read and write in an integrated literacy program.
On Fridays and Saturdays, Dumagat students gather in an outdoor classroom on their ancestral land, eager to learn. In addition to basic skills, teacher Alona Hungco, 27, a Dumagat member herself as well as an Unbound staffer and former sponsored child, focuses on indigenous peoples’ rights and sustainable development — issues critical to the future of her community. Through the school, the people are also able to keep their history and language alive.
“It feels good that I am now able to write my name,” Remegia said. “It was like a precious gift for me. I keep on persevering to learn these things because I feel like it will make me complete as a human being.”
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