Posted by: sociopastoral | July 31, 2016

Photo Gallery: Boodle Fight!

Alyansa Tigil Mina staff, Unahin Natin Lagi ang Diyos (UNLAD) members, LGU and communities of Barangay Maya and Pongon in MacArthur, Leyte engage in a Boodle Fight during SPI’s Team Building activity!

Held at Domingo Beach Resort, Brgy. San Pedro, MacArthur, Leyte on July 24, 2016

Typhoon Haiyan “Building Resilient Communities with Stewardship” Project is in partnership with Christian Aid.

Posted by: sociopastoral | July 30, 2016

Triple Communication: A Tool to Build Communities

On July 14, SPI gave a Triple Communication Seminar to the Typhoon Haiyan Project beneficiary partners – Alyansa Tigil Mina and the LGUs of Barangays Maya and Pongon, MacArthur, Leyte.

Triple Communication is a tool that touches 3 levels: organizational, psycho-emotional and motivational. It understands that a person is not just a worker but also a mental, emotional and spiritual being and thus has the need to also communicate from and to these other areas. Once the staff and organization understand the delineation and how to communicate on these different levels the communication process in the workplace becomes much smoother.  This tool also helps prevent or alleviate long-standing misunderstandings and mistrust not just in the workplace but also with other groups carrying opposite agendas. It is also a great help in achieving the organization’s goals.

Even before SPI’s work in Leyte began in January 2015, the above LGUs and NGO could not stand each other because of the differences in their stance on the mining activities in MacArthur. With “Building Resilient Communities with Stewardship Project,” SPI’s intervention was able to bridge the gap and help them find a common ground. One key factor was instilling that each person is a steward of God’s grace. For SPI, the shift in the people’s perspective of who they are – their core identity – is a foundational key to building a disaster-resilient and caring community. When one knows oneself and one’s purpose, the other important matters of relationships, work and mission, goals, dreams and actions all come into alignment.

Getting the LGUs and the organizations and communities to be one in purpose and mind may still be a long way. As for now, from October 2016 to the present, seeing the people see eye to eye, sitting in the same room, playing together in the games as a team, conversing and sharing personal experiences with one another, made the LGU and NGO workers human. Each now sees the other as a living person who experiences similar personal problems and pains, joys and triumphs. Work issues were finally set aside and mutual respect was born and fostered.

When resource person and SPI project coordinator, Florante Galapon, Jr., asked the participants what they learned, the Chair of one barangay faced an ATM staff and spoke, “Kung mayroong ano tayo noon, yung kaunting ano natin noon, iwanan na natin iyan para wala ng… huwag na tayong mag-ano [away]. (Let’s forget whatever tiff we had before. Let us leave that all behind so we will no longer [fight].) At once, the ATM staff approached the Brgy. captain to accept his reconciliation. He put out his hand to give the latter a handshake but the captain proceeded to give him a hug instead and the two men embraced. The whole group, astounded at the unexpected turn of events and in the couple’s act and gesture of forgiveness, immediately got up to its feet and applauded.

DSCF3648 (2)During the seminar evaluation, Brgy. Pongon Secretary Carol shared, “Marami akong natututunan lalo na sa aking pagiging katiwala ng Diyos. Ang seminar na tungkol sa pagsasaayos ng gusot sa barangay – malaki itong karagdagan para maibahagi namin ito sa aming barangay, at marami pang iba. Magaan ang aking pakiramdam sa aking sarili. Ang mga topics na tinalakay ay lahat magagamit namin sa aming pang-araw-araw na gawain sa pamilya at sa aming barangay. Malaki ang aking pasasalamat sa inyong lahat!”

(I learned a lot especially in being a good steward of God. This seminar is big plus to our barangay and many more. It lifted me up. We can use the topics discussed here in our daily lives with our families and our barangay. I am immensely grateful to all of you!)

Naramdaman ko na malaki ang pasasalamat ko na marami akong natutunan sa sakripisyo na ibinahagi ng SPI, kahit sila malayo talagang nagbigay sila ng oras para sa atin, atsaka yung ATM atsaka yung Christian Aid. Malaki itong bahagi para sa aming pamilya at barangay dahil maibabahagi namin lahat ng mga natutunan namin dito. Salamat sa karagdagang kaalaman!”

(I feel so much gratitude for SPI’s sacrifice – traveling from afar and giving time for us – and ATM and Christian Aid because I learned so much. This is a big help for our families and barangay because we can share with them all that we learned here.)

Communication is a two-edged sword, it can either be a messenger of harm or of peace. Knowing good communication tools and applying them correctly can effectively help in promoting the latter.

2016-07-14-triple-com-(22)This project is in partnership with Christian Aid.

Posted by: sociopastoral | July 30, 2016

One Team, One Community

It was a perfect day for team building! Instead of the gloomy skies that covered Leyte the past few days, the heavens joined in the celebration. This joint solidarity activity of SPI’s four beneficiary-partners was the last major event in its Typhoon Haiyan Project for the municipality of MacArthur. Participants from Barangays Pongon and Maya’s communities and local government units (LGUs), UNLAD people’s organization and Alyansa Tigil Mina NGO arrived at Domingo Beach Resort in San Pedro, MacArthur with cheerful anticipation.

The morning of July 24 was spent in an elaborate team building game. The participants were divided into 4 teams evenly composed of all the participating groups that included the young, old, the women and men. The grounds had stations marked by the colored flags of each team and folded instructions were tied to each station. For the game opening, the teams created their own group cheer and were asked questions on who they are (answer: God’s stewards!) and the characteristics of a good steward.

When all the teams finished giving the correct answers, the race began! Each station featured a different game: crossing over a bamboo fence, crawling on the sand under the ropes, sack race, wearing a life vest and getting a ball from a flagpole, and the last challenge was recovering a figurine from the sea by the beach.

Each game had to be done according to instructions, otherwise, the team had to restart that game. The final step to winning the race was having a male and female member bring their team’s flag to Bro. Ped Agripa, SPI’s game master. This was the clincher. One team finished first but instead of a pair holding the flag, only one team member came running to Bro. Ped. The second team to finish saw the mishap, re-read the instructions and chose their team’s pair. Their pair brought their flag forward and their team got to win the game!

It was a fun race and everyone was exhilarated that they wanted more. No worries because the game master came prepared! Bro. Ped pulled out of his hat lead-the-blind and tug-of-war matches that got the teams to further exercise both their physical and mental muscles.


In the afternoon, SPI TY Haiyan project coordinator, Mr. Florante Galapon, Jr. processed the morning activities with the participants. Deepening the experience of the games was discussed from the lens of leadership and stewardship principles, giving the participants knowledge and tools that would nurture and propel themselves and their communities to become better steward-leaders. More importantly, Mr. Galapon enlightened the participants to encounter a paradigm shift. Throughout October 2015 to the present, the communities/groups saw themselves as separate and individual groups, divided because of conflicting advocacies. During the processing, the people came to realize and understan that, as God’s stewards, they are all just one team, one community.

They are MacArthur.

TY Haiyan “Building Resilient Communities with Stewardship” project is in partnership with Christian Aid.

Posted by: sociopastoral | July 11, 2016

Farewell Auring!

Let us pray for the repose of the soul of Sr. Aurora Zambrano, ICM who passed away this morning 7/11/16 from heart failure. We are grateful for her unwavering support to SPI and our mission to help build the Church of the Poor in the Philippines.

Below are pictures of Sr. Aurora Zambrano and SPI Board Members taken last June 16, 2016. May God’s love and peace be with you always Sr. Auring!

Board of Directors' Pic Sr. Auring's Pic

Posted by: sociopastoral | June 29, 2016

Passing the Baton

As SPI wraps up its TY Haiyan Project in MacArthur, Leyte, a Trainers’ Training on Stewardship was held for select beneficiaries on June 19-20 at Caluwayan Beach Resort in Marabut, Samar. This training is to enable beneficiary partners to continue the stewardship work that they started to help the families in their barangays become stewards of theirselves, families, communities and environment.

The participants, together with Alyansa Tigil Mina staff, immersed themselves in the activity’s exercises as they learned to effectively write a training module, speak in front of an audience, and facilitate small groups.

One particular sharing from the public speaking workshop captured the essence of this training. Elvira of Brgy. Liwayway revealed:

“Hindi po ako makatayo sa maraming tao. Itong mic na ito, iniiwasan ko talaga…mamatay talaga ako! Mamatay ako pag nakatayo ako sa harapan. Yung nangyaring Yolanda, para sa akin, may na-ano sa aking kabutihan at pagkakataon na makapunta ako sa iba’t-ibang lugar at makasalamuha po ako ng iba’t-ibang tao. Hindi ko ma-ano ang tagumpay; hindi ko sukat na akalaing mararating ko iyon!”

I was not able to speak in public. I avoided the microphone like it was death itself. I will literally die if I speak in front of people! But Typhoon Haiyan brought out something good. It gave me the self-confidence and opportunities to travel to many places and encounter different kinds of people from all walks of life. I cannot put into words this victorious feeling… I never thought in a million years that I’ll be able to do this!

This is just one of the unforgettable stories the participants shared. SPI’s “Building Resilient Communities with Stewardship” project started on January 15, 2015 and is now in its final quarter of implementation. The psychospiritual processing with the people and their communities helped draw out the potential greatness in each person. There are many cases where people moved past the devastation and despair towards discovering their strength and indomitable character. In some cases, the greater the suffering, the bigger the growth. The leaders of this training will pass on their learning and carry the torch of victory to others still in the dark.

Haiyan may have been one of the worst and most destructive typhoon this world has seen, yet the people of MacArthur has definitely come out stronger.




This project is in partnership with Christian Aid.


I once asked Bp. Julio X. Labayen about his experience as a servant of the Lord. He said,  “When I first surrendered to God, I thought my life would be from happiness to happiness.  But it was not so. To my surprise, God took me to a place filled with pain, struggle and conflict.  I was confused and did not know what to make of it but I soldiered on. It was only much later, that I discovered – again with much surprise – that the place that the Lord brought me to that is filled with hardship and pain is also a place filled with incredible peace and joy. Such is our Lord God, He is full of surprises.”

It is when I remember encounters like that, that I miss Bp. Julio Xavier Labayen the most.  He had this uncanny ability to see through the confusing kaleidoscope of life to hone in on the common ground on which it all stands. Not only that, because Labayen was a great communicator, he could describe that shifting, ineffable, mysterious ground, in a way that even unschooled “kanto boys” and “tambays” could understand.

We are surely all the poorer without such a man in this world.

Anyway, the intention of this piece is not to go for a grand summation of Labayen’s import to the Catholic Church and Philippine Society. I leave that for sociologists, theologians and church historians to ponder. (That narrative, by the way, will surely be about Labayen as the Father of social action and the Church of the Poor in the Philippines.)  No this piece is but a modest account on one of his impact on a small faith inspired organization called Socio-Pastoral Institute or SPI that he shepherded as Chairman of the Board of Directors for several decades.

A sterling mark of a good leader is that they are able to communicate clearly the direction where they want to take the organization. Of course that sounds rudimentary but you’d be surprised how many leaders are unable to do that. Many merely react to the push and shoves of the times, many more lead by the weight and color of their whim and personality. Shameless still, many lead by fear – by repeatedly harping on conjured horrors and nightmares that will consume the group unless they command them.

Labayen was not of that kind at all.

He was a leader who inspired people to seek and strive for “the impossible dream” which he articulated clearly and often. As an aside, people who envied his insight and eloquence mocked him for that and ridiculed him as “parang sirang plaka.” Most people though valued this in him and used his offered directions to set their institutional and personal bearings by.

With SPI, the institutional direction he proffered was “SPI at the service of the Kingdom.”

Allow me to unpack that phrase so we can appreciate how this seemingly simple, innocuous phrase touched and shaped our organization to the bones. It was what guided SPI to become and stay relevant to the Church, the poor and peoples of other cultures and faith.

“SPI at the service of the Kingdom” initially means that SPI does not exist for itself but for its mission.

The organizational and personal implications of this is far reaching. It means that all resources of the institution – the talent of its staff, its material and cultural assets, its network of partners, its deep pool of institutional experience, etc. –  are all for the realization of a new world order marked by peace, justice and integrity of creation. It is good to have a a vehicle, a pleasant office, powerful computers, shelves of knowledge products and so on but they are there not for our personal indulgence. They are there to give power to our mission.

“SPI at the service of the Kingdom” subsequently means SPI’s mission is to help others, especially the poor, realize socio-economic-political-spiritual liberation.

Labayen’s  “impossible dream” exhorted SPI to adopt an integral approach to development work. This meant swimming against the dominant narrative that development is political and economic upliftment period. SPI, prompted by the dream of the Kingdom, believes that genuine development means not only political and economic upliftment but ecological and spiritual growth as well. Fullness of life, after all, means a life filled with economic, political, social, ecological and spiritual blessings. So how can it be realized via political and economic interventions alone?

As a result of this integral viewpoint, we now work with urban poor Moro communities in Pagadian City. We are there to help shape a culture of peace and development in a region torn by war and prejudice. Our interventions there include community organizing characterized by focus on the family, the promotion of khalifa or stewardship spirituality, the building of  a civil society-military dialogue group that tackles city-wide social issues that affect the poor, strengthening the Inter-Faith Council, establishment of community-based development and disaster preparedness programs, maintenance of community infrastructure, helping set up sustainable livelihoods, etc.

SPI is also helping disadvantaged communities and local barangay units in Tacloban and Samar that are severely affected by super typhoon Haiyan. We are there to help them build resilient communities and promote a culture of safety and the spirituality of stewardship. This involves strengthening the organizational capability of our partner NGOs, POs and barangays, conflict mediation,  strengthening of family bonds as well as psycho-spiritual counseling to help victims come to terms with the devastation and tragedy.

We also work with local Catholic Churches. We help them develop their stewardship and BEC programs so that they can become present and relevant to the lives of those condemned to live in the armpits of society.

From the outside looking it, it appears that SPI has no focus. We seem to be running around all over the place. But this is only because we believe that to bring the blessing of the Kingdom to the poor,  we need to expand our horizon of expertise. Poverty, after all, is an enemy with many faces. When the concerns and frontlines are vast, you need a large bag of tricks to keep up.

We need community organizing skills to empower people to speak up to power and claim their rights from government. We need to bring sustainable livelihoods packages so that the poor can address their material lack. We need humility and proficiency in working with peoples of other faiths and none so we do not exclude anyone from the Lord’s banquet.  Most of all, we need competence in dealing with the spiritual poverty of selfishness, egoism, hopelessness, loss of meaning and purpose.

So instead of specializing as a training institute alone, SPI walked into the unknown and threw its hat in the mad world of community development and social change. After all, how can one teach church or community when one’s hands and soul are unsullied from the actual grunt work of helping the poor who are perpetually condemned to walk on hard and dusty ground?

Such is Labayen’s legacy to SPI. He gave us clear direction to where the institution should go. For that reason, I can say that there is no fragment, wedge or sliver of what SPI has modestly achieved that can be carved up and pronounced as untouched by Labayen.

And so we come to the end.

Julio Xavier Labayen is dead but he has lived a full life marked by triumphs and failures, joy and pain, hard struggle and celebrations.  He is gone but his spirit,  his thoughts, words and actions live on and continue to inspire persons, People’s Organizations, Civil Society Organizations and churches he touched.  He is no longer here but he will long be remembered and hailed.

Long live Julio Xavier Labayen!

Posted by: sociopastoral | May 31, 2016

Photo Gallery: Psychospiritual for Haiyan Survivors 2

SPI Psychospiritual Processing for Barangay Maya, MacArthur, Leyte LGU and community

Held at St. Elizabeth Retreat House, Tacloban City on May 16, 2016

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The TY Haiyan “Building Resilient Communities with Stewardship” project is in partnership with Christian Aid.

Posted by: sociopastoral | May 30, 2016

Photo Gallery: Psychospiritual for Haiyan Survivors

SPI Psychospiritual Processing for Barangay Pongon, MacArthur, Leyte LGU and community

Held at St. Elizabeth Retreat House, Tacloban City on May 14, 2016

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Typhoon Haiyan “Building Resilient Communities with Stewardship” Project is in partnership with Christian Aid.

Posted by: sociopastoral | February 11, 2016

SOS for Prelature Shrine of St. Joseph

On February 8, 2016, SPI had a “Daupang Palad” encounter with the Spirituality of Stewardship core leaders of the Prelature Shrine of St. Joseph, Polillo, Quezon. The purpose of this encounter was to exchange experiences and insights that could lead to the improvement of the Shrine’s Balik-Handog Program. Balik-Handog, literally translated as “To Give Back,” is the church’s program for the parishioners to share their blessings to the community and to the church, especially the poor.

Resource person, Joey Clemente, devoted the morning session for reflection with 11 of the Balik-Handog core leaders and parish priest, Rev. Fr. Miguel Floro “Olet” Avenilla. The group shared how Balik-Handog and stewardship changed their lives and deepened their relationship with God, the things they are most proud of in their Balik-Handog Program, and the changes they wish to see to improve Balik-Handog.

In the afternoon, the parish bustled with activity as the area coordinators of the 30 puroks in Polillo arrived. The leaders shared the 2015 Balik-Handog financial report. Mr. Clemente deepened the incredible output the parishioners did with an input on SOS principles. The attendees were greatly inspired by the sessions and so the group had a lively discussion during the open forum. The activity culminated with the Shrine celebrating the leaders and coordinators for the hard and fruitful work they have done.


Spirituality of Stewardship is the core program of SPI and is the spirit that animates all its developmental and community based projects.

Posted by: sociopastoral | December 30, 2015

ATM and Community Building

SPI facilitated Alyansa Tigil Mina’s “debriefing” session last Dec. 18, 2015 at the Seasun Resort in Sta. Cruz, Zambales. The session was to help the ATM staff reflect on what meaning and value they find in their work that involves building resilient communities among those profoundly affected by super typhoon Haiyan and campaigns against mining.

As the process started, however, it became clear that the immediate and urgent need of the ATM staff is to address and resolve interpersonal conflicts and tensions that get in the way of their work and community. The session quickly shifted to address this. Thanks to the spirit of openness of the ATM staff, the mediated process was very successful. The session ended with a ritual for reconciliation and a prayer.


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Posted by: sociopastoral | December 21, 2015

SOS for Barangay Maya

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On December 14, 2015, SPI gave a Spirituality of Stewardship (SOS) Workshop to the community people of Barangay Maya, MacArthur, Leyte. This is the first seminar in cooperation with the local government unit (LGU) in the Haiyan Resilience project with Christian Aid. A total of 46 participants was gathered by the barangay and community leaders for the activity. Barangay Maya’s secretary and one of its councilors also participated in the workshop.

The seminar-workshop was purposed to impart steward principles and establish positive life and community narratives. In the aftermath of the overwhelming Haiyan disaster, the survivors and LGUs were fair game to the call of taking care of their own first and leaving neighbors and communities to fend for themselves. The Filipino spirit of bayanihan or helping build community was somewhat blown away with Haiyan’s mighty winds. And with this ensued mistrust and discord among the people and its political shepherds. By learning that they are all stewards, this will start building the relationship of the people with themselves, their neighbors and their LGU.

The first part of the seminar was facilitated by Mr. Florante Galapon, Jr. and Bro. Expedito Agripa of SPI. The pair provided the ground for everyone to establish connections and know one another better. Mr. Galapon talked about the importance of knowing oneself and to change oneself first before trying to change others. Bro. Agripa discussed the values of a good steward which are thankfulness, improving one’s gifts and sharing all gifts to bless others.

In the afternoon, Fr. Raymund Mazo –  a former parish priest of MacArthur – deepened the input on Spirituality of Stewardship citing his own experiences and stewardship examples using simple stories. He also shared that no one is perfect and no government is perfect, adding, “We are not here to compete with one another. We are here to complete one another.”

The participants, including the barangay representatives, expressed their delight to have attended such a different yet motivating session. One attendee articulated that, before the seminar he didn’t know what to expect but after the workshops, he realized, “It’s good that all of us came as we learned much. It seems God brought everyone here so we could share the goodness in our hearts to one another.” One youth remarked that she felt lightness in her heart because she learned a lot and then she encouraged everyone, “Let’s apply and practice what we learned today. We shall rebuild our lives. We shall rise!”

Posted by: sociopastoral | December 15, 2015

SOS Quarterly Meeting and Christmas Party

The SOS Task Force met at the SPI office last Dec. 12 for its Quarterly Meeting and Christmas Party. The entire morning was spent on a workshop to determine the health of the existing Stewardship programs of the various parish partners. The participatory discussion surfaced the insight that organizational and program development must be a continuing and on-going concern for all, even for the parishes whose stewardship programs are doing well. Another insight put forward was the need to develop links with other parishes, civil society organizations and the poor because our concern for the Kingdom does not end at the boundaries of our parishes.

The entire afternoon, on the other hand, was devoted to fun and games. Congratulations to the SOS team from Paete, Laguna who won the talent contest and Merry Christmas to all!


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Posted by: sociopastoral | December 10, 2015

Haiyan Project: Stewardship Planning with ATM and LGUs

On November 22, SPI, Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) and local government units (LGUs) of MacArthur, Leyte planned the next phase of “Building Resilient Communities through Stewardship” project for Haiyan survivors and their communities.  This project, in partnership with Christian Aid, commenced its 1st phase on January 2015 and focused on NGO partners and their beneficiaries. For the 2nd phase–November 2015 to August 2016–the project scope expands to 2 MacArthur barangays, Pongon and Maya.

The project aims to address the psychospiritual needs of the people in the barangays, create the essential conditions for them to adopt a stewardship culture, and build upon this to foster a collaborative and caring relationship between the communities and the LGUs.

SPI, ATM, the barangay chairpersons and their staff discussed and agreed upon the project deliverables, success indicators and the first quarter schedule. Before the meeting ended, all the attendees signed a covenant paper to signify and establish the partnership among SPI, ATM and Barangays Pongon and Maya.

Posted by: sociopastoral | October 26, 2015

Task Reflection with ATM

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SPI gave Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), SPI’s partner in the Haiyan rehabilitation, its quarterly task reflection on October 21, 2015 at St. Elizabeth Retreat House, Tacloban City. The objective is for the staff and community leaders to dwell in the awareness that their spirituality is integral to their personal happiness and that it affects the quality of their community resilience work. The ATM staff and their community leaders were given time to reflect on their life skills and how they were sharpened by changes in their images of God. Mr. Florante Galapon, Jr., SPI Haiyan Project Coordinator, also gave an input on the Stages of Spirituality.

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In one of the group activities, Mr. Galapon shared that one’s life is like a new pencil being sharpened – it goes through a circle of constant change, and during the sharpening, it discards unnecessary things and takes huge losses until it is transformed to where it becomes what it was purposed to be, to the point where it is ready to be used.

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The participants shared that due to various life experiences, their spiritual experience developed alongside and this gave them a different view of God and expanded their knowledge of who God is and who they are. One participant said he overcame life’s difficulties because God guided him throughout the way.

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Mr. Galapon acknowledged the leaders in sharing their work and spiritual life experiences  as it gave abundant learning and wisdom to everyone present. With this spirit of affirmation, each one went around and gave hugs of appreciation to one another.

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The session ended with each lifting in prayers their longing and desires to God and the group praying together in support.

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Posted by: sociopastoral | October 23, 2015

Gallery: FGD with Haiyan Survivors

On October 18 and 19, SPI visited the people of MacArthur, Leyte to ask how the SPI seminars and solidarity visits helped them in their recovery from the Typhoon Haiyan disaster. Women, men, and youth shared their triumphs. When compared to a crackling dry brown leaf and a green one, they gratefully expressed that they started from the dry leaf but now, with the help of SPI’s psychospiritual intervention, their leaves have turned to green.

As one of the leaders put it, “Green na green!” (Incredibly green!).

This project, Building Resilient Communities through Stewardship, is in partnership with Christian Aid.

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