Together-Ensemble believes in building a formidable agricultural base as necessary to national development, because one could not properly conceive of progress that is urban-centered, creating a stark socioeconomic imbalance and its attendant social ills. More than a political or economic platitude, it is a vision distilled in the life project and in these words of Yves Caroff:
“The establishment of some kind of low-level agricultural center such as the [Oblate] Galilee Farm in isolated rural areas can greatly contribute to generate new hope and trigger efforts for development in communities of poor farmers who constitute one of the poorest and most neglected social groups in the country; and thereby contribute also to solve some of the problems of peace and order.”
Who was Yves Caroff and what is the Oblate Galilee Farm?
Yves Caroff (1925-2008) was a Christian missionary to the Philippines who had spent his life living among and working with the poor farmers in Mindanao. Seeing that the rural folks are habitually ignored, he took it to himself to help them rise from poverty and hands-on agricultural education became the means he employed.
After facing numerous setbacks, including being kidnapped by bandits in 1991, Caroff succeeded in setting up the Oblate Galilee Farm (OGF) which is a flourishing learning hub where small-scale farmers, mainly displaced peasants and indigents, can be trained for the trade. At OGF, students are equipped with personal skills and competencies, sufficient technical know-how and good work ethics to help them gradually take off.
Today, OGF enjoys enormous recognition from the locals, educational institutions, government agencies and civil society organizations that look to it for support and inspiration. Students, foreign diplomats, government officials, agricultural experts, journalists, artists, and mere enthusiasts numbered among its list of visitors in the last decade. With the launching in 2008 of the Fr Yves Caroff Scholarship, signed for an initial period of 10 years, there has been a growing interest in the OGF project.