Subanen Craft Project (Mindanao)

February 17, 2010

As missionaries, Columbans leave their homelands to live in distant lands where they learn new languages, eat new food, celebrate new festivals, follow new sporting events, wear new kinds of clothing, face new weather conditions and even gain a new sense of humor.

How You Can Help

Columban Father Vincent Busch has asked for financial help to repair, equip and furnish an office, dormitory, and workshop for the Subanen Crafts Project. Your help will enable poor Subanen women feed, shelter and educate their families.

Office Needs
Repairs: New windows, ceiling and ventilation fans
Cost: $1,500

Furnishings and equipment: lighting fixtures, desks and chairs, filing cabinets, computer, printer, camera for making catalogue photos, office supplies, etc.
Cost: $2,000

Workshop Needs
Repairs: New roof with insulation
Cost: $4,000

Furnishings and equipment: work tables, chairs, electric fans, light fixtures, storage cabinets, lathes, acetylene welding set, electric grinder and sander, drills, molds, cable and wire cutters, vice grips, pliers, hammers, safety equipment, books on beading and jewelry design, needles, scissors, etc.
Cost: $3,000

Dormitory Needs
Repairs: painting the walls and ceiling, new electrical wiring, installation of ventilation fans, new plumbing for the bathroom, window repairs.
Cost: $2,500

Furnishings: lighting fixtures, study desks, table and chairs, bookshelves, cooking utensils, beds, etc.
Cost: $2,000

But one thing remains the same: Families everywhere share the human desire to feed, shelter and teach their children.

For the indigenous people of the Subanen tribe, this human desire is seldom realized.

The Subanen people live in the rugged mountains on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. Columbans live and work among the Subanen, sharing their joys and sorrows. In this harsh land, the Subanens’ makeshift huts are open to the weather; their hillside gardens produce little food; and their children must trek for hours to attend poorly staffed and equipped schools.

But there is hope, a better way. The Subanen Crafts Project started by Columban Father Vincent Busch is now providing Subanen families with the means to improve their homes, enhance their diet and educate their children.

Many Subanen women are skilled bead-crafters and weavers. The Subanen Crafts Project promotes and markets their beautiful art and jewelry so they can earn a living.

Marcelita Balido, for example, has worked in the project for five years. During that time, she saved enough money to build a more substantial home for her husband and three children.

Fr. Busch reports that the story of how she improved her home is inspiring. With her earnings she bought sheets of galvanized roofing material in the nearest town. Then this slight, 80-pound woman carried her new roof, piece by piece, up the jagged five-mile trail to her remote mountain home where her husband was working. For more details, watch the video below.)

The weavers in the Subanen Crafts Project are gaining more than money. They gain self-esteem every time someone praises their works of art. With support and training, some of these women will eventually acquire the competence and confidence to run the project.

At present, many more Subanens would like to join the project. With a proper office, dormitory and workshop, the Subanen Crafts Project could train more weavers and more effectively market their crafts. Fr. Busch has access to accommodations, but major repairs are needed along with equipment and furnishings.

This is where you can help. Fr. Busch has asked me to turn to you, our generous Columban benefactors, so the Subanen Crafts Project can give more Subanens dignified and gainful employment. He is asking for donations to help repair, equip and furnish an office, dormitory and workshop for the Subanen weavers. With your help more Subanens will have dignified work and healthy lives.

Gratefully yours in Christ,
Fr. John Burger
U.S. Region Director

Please help the Columbans help Subanen women in the Philippines build a better life for themselves and their families through the Subanen Crafts Project. Your tax-deductible donation will help provide a suitable place for these women to learn and practice their livelihood.