Since 2009, activities in partnership with the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart have been organized at the service of the youth of one of the ethnic minorities of the Philippines: The Aetas. These tribes are living in the mountains of the Province of Bataan.
The mission has a double objective
- On one hand, it is an opportunity for the ACAY beneficiaries to develop their leadership and facilitating skills. They conduct recreational, educative and educational activities for the children and youth of these tribes.
- On the other hand, this mission promotes the development of friendship and understanding between these peoples from the mountains and the Filipinos from the lowlands.
In 2011 the mother of a young Aeta attended the formation for parents. In 2012, the father joined her in order to be trained by ACAY. They are the first Aeta couple to become “Parents Advocates”.
“I am Irene, 19 years old and one of the School of Life beneficiaries. Let me share with you my short background. I belong to one of the indigenous tribes here in Luzon. We call ourselves “AETAS” or “KULOT” (curly hair). We live in the mountains and consider ourselves different from the rest of the low landers or “UNAT” (straight hair). Our tribe including myself only mingles with the other KULOT and never with the lowlanders as we are shy and most of the time scrutinized and mocked by other people because of our physical appearance.
Year 2009, I first met the sisters, ACAY staff and youth. They organized some activities for us. In the beginning I had hesitated to join them as I was shy and was afraid to be judged. I stayed behind the church and watched them organizing their activities. After their several visits, I started to approach them and discovered that they were different… They are the people that I can trust. They respect our culture and they have accepted us the way we are, the way I am. After two years of journeying with them, I wanted to go further, to go beyond. I have decided and accepted the challenge to enter in the School of Life Program.”
Irene, ACAY Aetas beneficiary