SOME 24 abused women in Sta. Catalina town who are determined to combat domestic violence are currently availing themselves of livelihood programs from the government as an association.

Kapunungan sa mga Kababaihan sa Manalongon (Kakama) is a support group of abused women in Barangay Manalongon that has also received livelihood programs under the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan–Comprehensive Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Department of Labor and Employment (Dole).

“I was abused by my husband for 11 years, categorically all forms of violence, but stayed in the relationship for the sake of my children and just accepted my fate,” said Elizabeth Sol, 55, of Barangay Manalongon, Sta. Catalina.

These women did not report their cases to the police but took the initiative to organize themselves for them to help each other fight violence and assist those would-be survivors of violence.

The group has facilitated 10 abused women who sought their help to have temporary shelter at the barangay chairperson and at some concerned citizens’ houses in the area.

Kakama members have been actively involved in helping the abused women, some of them have also been active in the Kalahi-CIDSS program implementation as volunteers.

Sol, a Kakama and Kalahi-CIDSS volunteer, served as member of the Monitoring and Inspection Team for the community’s project, which is the improvement of Manalongon Water System.

The water system project was completed in May 2014 and benefited 152 households, where Sol is the water bill collector for each household member-beneficiary.

In 2014, Barangay Manalongon received a Gender Incentive Grant (GIG), a complementary grant fund provided by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), to fund identified gender issues in a barangay/municipality.

With this, Kakama received a gender and development training that enabled them to widen their knowledge on gender equalities and their rights through the series of seminars and trainings.

The women's group and with the Kalahi volunteers are trained on Gender and Development (GAD) that provided the women with clear understanding of their rights and affirmed their passion to support other women victims of violence.

“Kung wala pa lang na ang mga balaod nga amo nahibaw-an, di jud na mahunong ang pag-pang-abuso (If there have been no laws like the laws that we just have learned from the training, abuses against women and children will not stop),” said Kakama president Judith Narciso.

Narciso said that through the training, the husbands in their community learned about the consequences if they violate the law.

The women also learned about their rights and how to defend themselves.

The learning they received from the training inspired these women to become advocates of women’s rights.

In 2015, Barangay Manalongon received an incentive grant from MCC.

The Kakama felt the need for a temporary shelter for the victims of violence against women and children (VAWC), thus, they proposed for another project to construct a Crisis Center for Women.

Kakama treasurer Evangeline Pausal, a VAW survivor, said that GAD seminars and the Kalahi-CIDSS’ initiative in widening their knowledge and preparing them to be advocates of the rights of women helped us in achieving its objectives.

The completion of the Crisis Center boosted the confidence of Kakama to serve the victims of violence.

“We are really thankful to Kalahi-CIDSS Gender Incentive Grant for giving us the knowledge and guided us to be good advocates to women’s rights. For me, this is the greatest legacy, while I am still here, I will never stop my journey in helping other victims and put a stop to violence against women and children,” said Evangeline Pausal.

Now, Elizabeth, Judith, and Evangeline are busy attending trainings held by the local government unit especially trainings on gender.

Some of the Kakama members also served as resource persons on trainings about gender and development. (PIA)