Philippines - Kidapawan - OND WES Refuge
Kidapawan City, is the capital city of Cotabato Province on the island of Mindanao. Mindanao remains the poorest section of the country. Eleven out of the 20 poorest provinces are in this region, with poverty incidence of 38.8%. The prevailing conditions of poverty, hunger, corruption and the lack of economic opportunity create fertile ground for the extremist indoctrination of the youth of Mindanao.
A recent study revealed that young males and females faced the risks of abuse and violence. Though significantly higher among female victims; the most vulnerable age for female victims was found to be 13 years. Sexual abuse was found to be the most common form of abuse while physical and psychological abuses were found to be in the context of parental discipline.
The OND WES Project stands for Oblates Notre Dame, Women’s Ecological Sanctuary. OND WES has programs for healing, protection and rehabilitation of sexually abused young women. These programs are managed by the Order of the Oblates of Notre Dame. The project commenced in 2009 in response to trauma and violence affecting women and girls in North Cotabato/Kidapawan, a regional centre in an area of ongoing armed conflict. This conflict causes serious dysfunction in families which is further augmented by workers leaving the region seeking economic security overseas for their families.
The aim of the project is to provide safe accommodation, care and education for women and girls escaping domestic violence and/or at risk of exploitation. A Skills-Training Resource Centre was completed in early 2016 which prepares residents in skills that enable them to be independent and self-supporting. It also provides training opportunities for local poor women that open alternative sources of income, food security and health for their families, e.g. by producing and using alternative health care products such as herbal medicines, organic vegetables for healthier living. It has also established itself as a resource in the local community for women who need someone to talk to in an environment of trust, especially in cases of domestic violence, abuse and social problems affecting rural families. Hygiene and health education, plus counselling, are provided subject to the availability of funds.
The project is committed to facilitating lives free from violence and abuse, raising community awareness of the devastating effects and long-term costs of domestic violence and providing all women and children access to the opportunities enjoyed by the wider community. The longer term outcomes will see these women enabled to take control of their lives, make their own choices and encourage independence and self-determination.
Staff at the Center are trained and have experience supporting women and girls in crisis.
Since 2009, of 88 residents, the following statistics are indicative of the gravity of the issues facing this community. It needs to be noted that many cases go unreported and perpetrators hidden by their families.
50 women and children were rape victims
25 were incest victims
29 were victims of domestic violence
2 child trafficking
7 serious child abuse
What is Lenity Australia’s involvement?
Lenity Australia is providing funding for basic needs such as food and clothing, counselling, advocacy, education and life skills development.
Lenity Australia is committed to the work of the OND WES because it aims to empower women and children to reach their full potential and lead fulfilling lives.
 Philippine National Statistical Coordination Board (2009).