KKFI: Touching Lives for 70 years
“It is useful, occasionally, to look at the past to gain a perspective on the present”
The Hugh Wilson Hall was built in 1923 by Ms. Madaleine Klepper, an American Missionary of the then Women’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church of New York, USA, as a dormitory for girls specifically female students studying in colleges and universities within the University Belt in Sampaloc District, City of Manila.
Along with the dormitory, the Mission House, a hut and a chapel could also be found at the time in the 6,854.7 square-meter property along P. Paredes street corner Lerma street, Sampaloc, Manila.
From Dormitory Services to a Social Action Center
Imbued with a vision, passion for service to the poor and undaunted efforts to translate her Christian faith and Methodist heritage into actions, Ms. Klepper could not ignore the realities of poverty in the surrounding communities of the University
She responded to the challenge to be at the forefront of the struggle for social transformation through education and training of people. The task is to carry on a ministry towards the totality of the person’s development – the physical, the intellectual, the social and the spiritual.
In the 50’s and 60’s, the social group work of the Center started with Mothers’ Club, sports group, milk-feeding, Boy and Girl Scouts, etc. Volunteer workers helped in carrying out the Center’s various activities.
The milk-feeding program for indigent children was tied-in with pre-school classes. There were also remedial classes for children who could not afford to go to public schools.
These forays into education were based on a firm belief in the necessity of education in the life of every child. These became the forerunner of the Early Childhood Education (ECE) program, which was conceived primarily for the children of poor families in Sampaloc District.
The ECE program underwent continuing development since its inception in 1950. In keeping with KKFI’s belief that the transformation of society should begin with the inculcation of Christian values in young children, the nursery, junior and senior kindergarten classes emphasized values education.
While the pupils were studying, sewing sessions for young girls and mothers were also going on. Other self-help activities for the unemployed were also being held. These became the precursor of the Job Skills and Training Assistance Program (JSTAP). That education is an indispensable means towards empowering women and children was one of the principles of the Center, but one that remains true even today.
With the retirement of Ms. Klepper in 1967, after having shared 19 years of her life in service to the Filipino people through the Methodist Social Center, Mrs. Ruth Prudente became the Center’s Executive Director.
The Sampaloc University Center
Mrs. Prudente firmly believed that the Center had a definite role in the life of the church and the community. She thought the Center should be working more closely with other institutions in order to better meet the total needs of people.
She continued the program of the Social Center funded by operations of the dormitory for ladies. She renovated the Mission House into what is now the Seminar House where live-in seminars and meetings are held.
In 1968, some of the facilities like the community chapel, the Social Hall, and the community library were organized to become the Sampaloc University Center.
The University Center also provided students and residents of Hugh Wilson Hall, not only a venue for study and research in its Library, but also wholesome recreation and fellowship among hundreds of students who daily dropped by the Center.
Incorporation of Kapatira-Kaunlaran Foundation, Inc.
With the expiration of the Laurel-Langley Agreement between the Philippines and the USA, the Women’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church of New York, USA (now the Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministry of the United Methodist Church –USA), the Sampaloc property was donated to KKFI, which was incorporated on November 12, 1971.
On April 18, 1972, after having been determined that KKFI had been organized for education and scientific advancement, the National Science Development Board (NSDB) granted it a certificate that exempted the Foundation from taxes of whatever kind and character.
On December 23, 1992, the Bureau of Internal Revenue granted the Foundation exemption from the payment of income tax on income derived by it as a non-stock, non-profit corporation organized for scientific and social welfare purposes as contemplated under Section 26 (e) and (g) of the National Internal Revenue Code, as amended. The letter of exemption was signed by Mr. Eufranco D. Santos, BIR Deputy Commissioner.
Mrs. Prudente resigned in October 1972, right after the declaration of Martial Law. But Martial Law did not retard the development of KKFI.
When Mrs. Nellie L. Mercado assumed the position of Executive Director of KKFI, its task, she believed is to carry on the ministry started by her predecessors which is nurturing the caring and liberating tradition of the Foundation.
Mrs. Mercado had also her own vision and philosophy of work and service – good stewardship of KKFI’s human and material resources. She had hoped that one day, the Foundation might be self-reliant, standing on its own as it reaches out to the poor and the oppressed and help them grow in wisdom, in stature and in favor of God and His people.
A free medical/dental clinic was opened on August 16, 1973, helping indigent families in Sampaloc. At around this time, a four-storey commercial apartment on Lerma street and a two-storey building on P. Paredes Street were built to start its financial self-reliant program.
Management Training Seminars
The Foundation launched as 1st Phase the “Management Seminar for Church and Civic Leaders” on July 3, 1973 with the receipt of funds from Bread for the World. The objective is to maximize the management skills and capabilities of church workers and civic leaders which they can use in their local churches and communities.
The 2nd Phase began on March 24,1977 with the receipt of funds from KED (Church Funds for Development Service).
In response to the socio-political-economic situations of the country from 1974 to early 1980’s the 3rd Phase focused on conscientization, based on thorough examination of the socio-economic situation of the country and the clarification of the role of the church in the transformation of society for the development of the people, especially the poor. This Phase marked the start of the partnership between the Evangelische Zentralstelle Fur Entwicklungshilfe (EZE) or Protestant Agency for Development and the Foundation – a partnership that would span for almost two decades.
The 4th Phase of the Seminar focused on Community Organizing, extending its reach to regional seminars in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Carrying the theme “Organized Christian Communities: Key to Human Development,” these seminars advocated people-centered development – a development that is of, by and for the people.
During this Phase, KKFI involved itself with formally organizing various sectoral groups; such as: peasants’ sector in 1983; the fisherfolk sector in 1987; and the urban poor in Metro Manila, Rizal, Cavite and Bulacan.
The fifth phase was launched in 1991 with the seminar entitled “Participatory Project Development and Management” which aimed at enhancing the capabilities of KKFI’s partners in meaningful socio-economic work to meet their immediate needs and strengthen organizations.
The sixth phase was launched in 1994 with the seminar “Participatory Management and Strengthening of People’s Organizations.”
Phase 4, 5 and 6 were given to indigenous people’s communities, such as the Aytas of Zambales, the Agtas, Negritos and Bukidnons in Don Salvador Benedicto, Negros Accidental, and Mangyans in Mindoro.
They were also made available to the victims of the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1990 and the people with disabilities (PWDs).
From its inception in 1974 up to the present, the Management Seminars remain a potent tool that KKFI continues to utilize in helping in the empowerment of the powerless, the promotion of social equity and the building of self-reliant communities and organizations.
Program for the Street Children
In September 1980, the KKFI partnered with Food for the Hungry program in several areas in Manila to help street children. Before the end of that year, it took in as live-in residents twenty (20) street children who were scavenging for food in the streets of Manila.
In 1985, the Anak Dalita Sponsorship Program was established to help in the educational needs of children in depressed areas in Manila, especially in the proximate environs of KKFI.
Then in September 1987 the KKFI received a grant from the Swedish International Development Authority (SIDA) and the Church of Sweden Mission for KKFI Temporary Shelter for Street Children. By 1988, community residents were mobilized to volunteer as teachers for the program.
In April 12, 1999 the new Executive Director, Mrs. Priscilla Atuel, opened the Ethelou D. Albert Shelter for Street Children (Girls). It was funded by the California-Nevada Conference of the United Methodist Church-USA.
Gilead Center for Children and Youth Welfare
In early 2000, KKFI purchased a lot in Pulilan, Bulacan, about 46 kilometers north of Manila. The 13, 949 square-meter property is now known as the Gilead Center for Children and Youth Welfare. The funding for the construction of the building was provided by Japan Development Assistance and equipment and furnitures were donated by USAID.
The Gilead Center is a place for healing, renewal, education and training and eventually rejoicing for children and youth living in especially difficult circumstances. The children’s right to life, survival and development are met through the provision of food, shelter and educational assistance.
Focusing on Education
In 2010, Mr. David D. Gutierrez, temporarily assumed the leadership as Officer-in-Charge. He initiated the construction of a Multi-Purpose Hall and the conversion of the conference room into a library and a spa. He continued on the programs initiated by the previous Executive Director.
The year 2010 was also the start of the term of Ms. Nancy Caluya-Nicolas as the fifth Executive Director. Still believing that education is a way to empower children and youth, she initiated the Development and Protective Services and Anti-Substance Abuse Programs through the Alternative Learning System (ALS) of the Department of Education (DepEd). She also initiated the Training for Employment Program using the Dual Training System of TESDA.
Other current programs of KKFI are: early childhood care education, child friendly spaces, student ministry, educational assistance, youth advocacies, parent education and community organizing, livelihood skills training, and day center for older persons (Day C).
As can be easily discerned from the above Programs and Social Services of KKFI, education and training is the main vehicle/methodology used to transform people, sectoral groups and whole communities, especially among the underprivileged and economically disadvantaged sectors of Philippine society.