Volunteers Double the Impact of Grant from Lush Foundation

When our team in the Philippines received the grant from the Lush Cosmetics Foundation, they made a commitment to install 16 water pumps serving at least 3,500 students in Maguindanao.  Thanks to the additional support from a crowdfunding campaign led by Board member Akif Irfan and the tireless efforts of a network of volunteers in the Philippines, our team more than doubled the impact we were expected to achieve.

This past year, the Philippines team exceeded all expectations by providing 36 water pumps at 35 different schools reaching a total of 5,884 students in five different municipalities across Maguindanao.

This is a remarkable acheivement anywhere, but especially difficult in the area of ongoing conflict where we work that this year flared into multiple indicidents of violence and a declaration of martial law.  In our region, nearly three out of every four people lacks access to safe drinking water and children are especially hard hit and routinely become ill from contaminated water. This project brings water to schools in part so that children can stay healthy and in school and not travel great distances to retrieve water for their class, regularly losing precious classroom instruction time. 


In addition to the direct service of installing water pumps at schools, our has been involved in a wide rage of meetings, events and forums throughout the year, especially around Peacebuilding and the "Bangsamoro Basic Law" legislation designed to reduce tensions in the region. In addition, the team expanded the partnership with the World Food Program to promote hygiene and sanitation for students, teachers and in food preparation.  

There are many stories of children and schools whose lives were impacted by the access to safe drinking water that support from Lush made possible, but we are particularly proud to share an update about the five water facilities in Barangay Bugawas, Datu Odin Sinsuat in Maguindanao. Barangay Bugawas is a vulnerable and conflict-affected community where most of the residents have historically supported the aims of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that is in an open and often violent conflict with the government. These communities have been engaged in the volunteer efforts to bring the water pumps to schools in this region and have coordinated their actions and worked shoulder-to-shoulder with leaders from both sides of the conflict, demonstrating that it is possible to work together to solve problems in ways that build momentum for peace in the region.

Philippines Water Project Reaches 40,000 students!


Working within a coalition of members in civil society, non-governmental organizations, the military, armed guerillas and parents, Susana and her team overcame persistent challenges which still remain moving forward.  

A joint report released this month from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Unicef shows sobering numbers for safe drinking water access in the Philippines. According to the numbers released, 7.5 million Filipinos are without access to sanitary toilets, while 8.4 million do not have a supply of clean drinking water. 

A local insurgency in Marawi City in the neighboring province of Lanao del Sur exploded when foreign fighters affiliated with the so-called Islamic State joined the fight and prompted a massive response from the Philippine Armed Forces this summer, including the imposition of martial law. When the conflict spread to nearby Maguindanao, the military stepped up its activities there as well. The conflict has literally come close to home for Susana on several occasions, as in September, when improvised explosive devices were detonated on a road she uses occasionally, wounding four people. Nevertheless, she has deftly navigated the political, economic and social hazards, collaborating constructively with all sides to provide tangible benefits to communities wracked by warfare and poverty.

To install the water pumps, Susana works closely with military officials who have the heavy machines they need and with the rebel groups who control the territory where some of the schools are located. The Goldin Institute has been working with Susana since 2011, providing her with financial resources and opportunities to meet with grassroots leaders from around the world. This training enhanced her leadership skills and reputation, and ultimately prepared her to serve as her community’s representative in an ongoing peace process. Late last year, Susana was appointed a commissioner of the 21-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission, which includes members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as well as the government and is dedicated to obviating further outbreaks of violence and ultimately establishing stability throughout the region.

"It is summertime here in our region," Susana explained, "and our students are on vacation through the end of May. We are also dealing with flooding and as well as peace and security challenges. There are military operations happening in the areas we’ve targeted for water pump installation, as the national government is waging war under martial law."

Even amidst these difficulties, progress continues as our partners have recently installed four more units, including one in a community where Muslims and Christians living and working together.

In addition to leading these water pump installation efforts, Susana has been chosen by these communities to be a representative in the national peace process since her appointment late last year as a commissioner of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.' 

This milestone was complemented by another historic moment in the project with the announcement of a $20,000 grant from the Lush Cosmetics Charitable Foundation.

Major Foundation Support for Philippines Water Project

We are pleased to share that the Goldin Institute has received a $20,000 grant from the Lush Cosmetics Charitable Foundation to support our work in the Philippines.

With this grant, the Goldin Institute will be able to expand the safe drinking water project to an additional sixteen schools in Mindanao, estimated to reach more than 3,680 students. To help raise awareness about the Goldin Institute’s work, Lush Cosmetics has also agreed to provide information about the project on their website and on select product packaging.

This support will be a major boost for our work in the Philippines, which recently marked a significant milestone by serving over 40,000 students at 113 schools in Mindanao. As you know, this work is critical in a region where over 70% of the population lives without reliable access to safe water.

The Goldin Institute is proud to parther with the Lush Foundation, a philanthropic leader in supporting grassroots driven social change.

Please join us in thanking the Lush Foundation Charity Pot program for their generous support!