As a traveler, my purpose in venturing beyond my country’s borders transcends the allure of diverse cultures, natural beauty, and historical treasures. While these elements undoubtedly enhance my journeys, my core objective is discovering pathways toward a sustainable future in our rapidly evolving world.

In 2023, Stairway took a remarkable initiative by welcoming volunteers from the WWOOF website—an avenue dedicated to Encouraging Cultural and Educational Experiences for a Sustainable Global Community through organic farming. It was against this backdrop that I engaged as a volunteer at the Stairway Organic Farm.

An empowering shift

Upon my arrival, I witnessed a pivotal event that served as my initiation into this unique community. A crucial transformation in the feeding program of the Baclayan community was unveiled. This evolution signified a paradigm shift towards sustainability. Previously, Stairway provided meals to the children throughout the week. However, a visionary transition had taken root. The community was responsible for providing nourishing meals to its children every Monday, employing produce cultivated in the community garden. This empowering shift marked a significant step towards self-sufficiency and underscored the collective commitment to a sustainable way of life in the Baclayan community.

Children’s Empowerment

Beyond these innovative steps, Stairway is on a mission to empower the potential of children in its Family Home Program. This empowerment takes tangible form through their participation in agriculture training sessions facilitated by the Agricultural Training Institute. In addition, this training not only ignites the youth’s enthusiasm for agriculture as a career path but also symbolizes Stairway’s dedication to nurturing the holistic development of its beneficiaries. In addition, by connecting these children with agricultural practices, Stairway enhances their practical skills and fosters a deep connection with the essence of sustainable living.

Coffee production

A notable achievement on the farm is the coffee planting project, which has made significant strides. We transplanted 150 seedlings, and children in the Family Home Program gained insights into coffee planting. Although a journey of time and patience, coffee planting holds the potential for sustainable living, opening up opportunities beyond the farm. Culturing coffee could lead to diverse career paths, benefiting Stairway and the community. This experience has granted me the privilege of weaving intricate connections with cultures, environments, and concepts that have indelibly shaped my journey toward a more sustainable way of life.

Elain Chan, SFI volunteer