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The Negros Nine Human Development Foundation

To Be the Voice of Those Who Have No Voice

Eco Farm

By Kathryn Kenny

While I am now the communications director for the U.S. Region of the Missionary Society of St. Columban, I remember, vividly, the worldwide coverage of “The Negros Nine” as they stood in solidarity with the Filipino people. Many people can “talk the talk,” but Negros Nine demonstrated their dedication, their faith and their belief in a better world to the entire world. And that is why I have chosen the Negros Nine Demo Farm as my personal fundraising project.

In 1983 three priests, including Columban Frs. Brian Gore and Niall O’Brien, and six lay workers in Kabankalan, Negros Occidental, the Philippines, were imprisoned. Over the next 14 months of trial and imprisonment, they become known worldwide as the Negros Nine. These trumped-up charges were meant to stop the work of the Basic Christian Communities (BCC) in which the Nine had been among the forerunners in Negros. Following their release, The Negros Nine became a voice for the poor, as encouraged a few years earlier by Pope John Paul II in Bacolod City in 1981 when he said “the church should not hesitate to be the voice of those who have no voice.”

The Negros Nine Human Development Foundation, Inc. was established in 2000 to continue the work of total human development started in the dark years of dictatorship and in the memory of all those who suffered and died in the course of justice. Their struggle will not be in vain, they will not be forgotten.

Negros Nine Demo Farm
In 2006 the Foundation bought 12 hectares of titled land in the mountains of Kabankalan at a place called Bantolinao to help the surrounding subsistence farmers, many whom were members of the KKs started in the 1970s. The situation of the farmers continues to deteriorate as their land becomes more and more eroded and unproductive. The poor cannot afford to experiment or take risks in their farming methods as it could mean certain hunger if they failed. The demo farm was set up to show that changes need to be made and that new and better ways are possible. The farmers are being introduced to sustainable methods of agriculture. Not only are these cheaper but because they are organic they are more healthy for them and the environment. Sustainable agriculture uses local resources without endangering the needs of future generations.

Eighty families from five surrounding KKs have been organized by the Foundation and have formed their own organic cooperative. Even if farmers are able to improve their production they can be at the mercy of the middlemen in the selling of their products. The only chance to get a better price is through a cooperative effort. This is especially when the farmers are in a remote area.

The Negros Nine Demo Farm is an ongoing project. Please remember these people in your prayers. There is still much work to be done, and any donation, large or small, will help. Please donate today.

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