Manna from Heaven

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Digos City, Davao del Sur – The long and winding journey of Pastor Pearl Demafeliz-Griffin may be coming to an end. For three (3) months, the Digos church of Lifestream Ministries is busy distributing food, money and packs of cereals. The hardwork and effort Pastor Pearl is putting into the project is currently feeding six hundred and fifty (650) schoolchildren close to the Digos City area. Their mission: ending malnutrition.

In Region XI, two in every 10 children aged 0-5 years old, and three in every 10 school-age children in the region are underweight-for-age, Ma. Adrienne S. Constantino and Cynthia A. Nones, FNRI senior science research specialists said in a 2012 study. For 0-5 years old children, stunting is high in Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur and Compostela Valley, and very high in Davao Oriental. Little noted is how undernourishment is leading to vulnerabilities to other problems such as poorer education outcomes and death from minor illnesses.

Various efforts are being placed to address the problem of childhood malnutrition. One of the programs from the private sector is the Catholic Hapag-Asa feeding program. The Hapag-Asa feeding program is a nationwide childhood feeding program organized with various churches. Through local support the program can localize the feeding program to every corner of the country. Bethesda Ministries International is one such partner.

Looking for a partner to expand their program, the two religious organizations met with Pastor Pearl Demafeliz to localize the program in Davao del Sur. The teams organized an alliance to address the program in a systematic manner to measure the output. The organizations signed a memorandum of agreement to formalize the partnership last year. The Hapag-Asa and Bethesda will provide the technical documentation while Lifestream provides the manpower.

For the past few months, an average weight gain of two kilos is observed with the recipients of the school-based intervention. From the far-flung schools of Kapatagan to the low-lands of Hagonoy the size and impact of the program is visible to the participating schools, teachers and parents. The stakeholders of the program are even volunteering their time and money to ensure that the beneficiary children grow well and improve in their schooling. Pastor Pearl is also incentivizing the program with a 5,000 reward money and an award to the school with the best average body mass index (BMI) improvement.

Thanks to the support of the Rotary Club of South Digos and Governor Claude Bautista who gave Php 500,000, the program is running since November 2015. The program is currently providing one meal at ten pesos per child each day. However due to the vast scale and size of the project, the funds are drying up.

Urgent Help Needed

Due to the shortage of funds the Lifestream Ministry is nearing the program’s life-cycle. Before long the program’s funding will dry up and ending the ambitious feeding program. We strongly urge all organizations and charitable hearts to contribute to the mission. Interested organizations can kindly donate to Lifestream Ministries or to Pastor Pearl. You can also contact Amor Estrada at 09489717658 for additional details. With your help we can make sure that the sacred task of Pastor Pearl shall not come to an untimely end.

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