Masaya : a name, a symbol
Mission of Siargao Masaya
Siargao Masaya’s creation
Siargao Masaya —
Masaya means "happy" in Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines. The aim of the association is to offer hope and happiness to those who are helpless when facing access to education, the local economy and basic health care.
Symbol of the Siargao Masaya association, the spiral of Shiva’s eye evokes the beginning of a new cycle through the collaboration of different cultures. This shellfish also represents the luck, a chance to give the communities of Siargao a choice for the future by having a fresh start.
It is on the basis of the observation that a direct link exists between the well-being of the family and the education of children that Siargao Masaya has implemented various projects. All are linked to access to education and economic self-sufficiency to fight non-schooling, child labor and the consequences of poverty in general.
The activity of the association is thus centered on two main objectives: access to education with a sponsorship system and the creation of a free preschool as well as a community development project whose aim is to help groups of local inhabitant by providing them with rotary funds (micro-credits) for economic activities.
Most families on the isolated island of Siargao have 5 to 7 children. The main activities practices by the locals are fishing and coconut farming, which only generates paltry income. Some parents do not have the financial means to give their children an education because they just have enough to feed their families.
On average, the household will have an income of 140 CHF per month (7'000 PHP), or 5 CHF per day (300 PHP). Each day, half the amount (2.5 CHF / 150 PHP) will be used only for the purchase of rice, which each family consumes around 3 kg every day. The rest of it is used for the foodstuffs (fish, vegetables etc.), sanitary products various household bills and school fees.
Tourism is developing more and more in Siargao. The majority of businesses are now owned by foreigners or mixed couples, hence the increase in land value in recent years. Many families, by necessity, decide to sell their land and thus lose the opportunity to generate further income.
To help provide for the household, children are often forced to work at a very young age or to care for their siblings rather than go to school.
In 2005, Stéphanie Roth Gana discovered the Philippines on a first trip to Southeast Asia in 2005. At the time, she was studying ethnology. She immediately appreciated this country for its culture (resulting from a unique blend) and for the pleasant and cheerful nature of the locals who live a simple existence.
On this first trip, she also became aware of the chance she had of being born in Switzerland, a country where one has the choice of his destiny. Her life found a new humanitarian aspiration and she started picturing beautiful projects in her mind.
At the end of her studies, she decided to return to the Philippines where she arrived, almost by chance, in Siargao. The family, in which she lived, is very involved in the community life and a very strong bond has been created between them. After learning the local language, the Surigaonun, a dialect of the Visaya, she identifies with them the major problems the Siargao families are facing. These exchanges gave Stéphanie the direction to take for the association. Siargao Masaya was born from the collaboration with this family but also with the inhabitants of the island. Headquartered in Zinal, Switzerland and Siargao, its programs are supported by the municipality and the mayor of General Luna.
Siargao Masaya is a Swiss NGO funded by Stephanie Roth in 2010. It actively and lastingly supports the poorest families of Siargao, a island located in the South-East of the Philippines in the province of Surigao del Norte, with the aim to provide local community access to education and financial autonomy.
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