Derry girl to help Filipino tribe

The Badjao tribe in the Philippines.
The Badjao tribe in the Philippines.

A Derry girl has been selected by a charity to travel to the Philippines to work with the Badjao tribe.

Nineteen year-old Natalie Kavanagh will travel with the charity called SERVE to the Philippines on July 1.

Natalie Kavanagh.

Natalie Kavanagh.

The Badjao tribe are treated in a similar way in the Philippines to how Travellers are sometimes treated in Ireland.

“I am absolutely delighted,” said Natalie from Swilly Gardens in Creggan.

“I’d heard about SERVE at university and applied to go and work with the Badjao tribe. I was called back for an interview and then a while later I was told I was successful - I can’t wait to go there.”

Natalie is currently in the first year of a degree in Liberal Arts with English at St. Mary’s College in Belfast and she explained the work she will be doing when she goes to the Philippines in the summer.

“The Badjao tribe are sometimes referred to as ‘sea gypsies’ and they have been treated extremely badly in the past.

“The tribe move from island to island in the Philippines but in recent times they have decided they want to settle down.

“As a result of the way the tribe is treated they find it very hard for their children to be issued with birth certificates, receive medical care and an education.”

SERVE work in conjunction with the Presentation Sisters in the Philippines. In order for Natalie to join SERVE on their visit to the Badjao tribe she must raise £3,000.

“I’ve already £1,000 raised and I have a few fundraising events planned for the next few months.

“I will be hosting a pub quiz and a music night upstairs in Mason’s on Thursday April 23. Then on June 7 I will be holding a similar event in the Rocking Chair Bar in Waterloo Street.

“I will also be doing bag-packing in both Costcutters in the Rath Mor Centre in Creggan and in Sainsbury’s.”

Natalie added: “I can’t wait to get out there. I really want to make a difference to these people.

“I will be there for four weeks but during that time I will be helping to build houses for the Badjao tribe as well as working in their schools and health centres.

“The Badjao tribe find it hard to get work and their main source of income is fishing and there’s not a lot of money to be made from fishing so as a result of this the people are very poor.

“It’s the chance of a lifetime and given the fact I have never been to anywhere else outside of Ireland except Spain I simply cannot wait.”

If you would like to donate to Natalie’s fundraising campaign just click here.