Q: What was your main goal in starting the foundation?
Buenaventura: It was something that was needed in the Philippines. There were lots of people out of jobs and many lack skills; these people were untapped resources and I felt helping them help themselves. The important thing is, you just don’t pick anybody out of the street. You have to choose the people who are trainable and willing to work.
Q: What can you say about the foundation today and its current programmes?
Buenaventura: We continue to do the skills training, but we’ve also seen the need to do something about health. We’ve done quite a bit on the malaria programme; now we’re looking at HIV and TB. I guess a healthy Philippines is really something we would like to aspire for because health is a very important part of the makeup of any human being. Unfortunately, basic health care in this country is lacking. Hence, it has become our mission to help those who need it most.
Q: How do you feel about the impact of PSFI?
Buenaventura: I think we did whatever little contribution to help uplift the lives of people. It gives you a certain amount of satisfaction when you see people who are gainfully employed.
The resources of this country have not kept pace with the growing population. In fact, this is one of the factors we considered in going through our health programmes. I think we’ve done our bit in educating people that you just can’t produce babies. I really feel bad when I see malnourished, stunted children. As you know, children need basic nutrients between the age of 2-5. If you miss that, you then grow people who are not capable of helping themselves. I think that’s an area we need to focus on. Apart from that, family planning should really be pushed. That’s an area I’d like us to get into.
Q: Any message to the people making up the foundation?
Buenaventura: I think we’ve been very fortunate because we have a team of dedicated and devoted workers who place the well-being of all our beneficiaries at heart. These people deserve to be congratulated and recognized. After all, they’re the ones who make a difference.
The commitment to sustainable development
With 35 years of sustaining its initiatives in enabling the disadvantaged to become productive and responsible members of Philippine society and in helping strengthen community systems, PSFI has been contributing to the country’s sustainable development, at all times, upholding the Shell core values of honesty, integrity, and respect for people.
Since its establishment on August 19, 1982, PSFI has been managing social development programmes ranging from education and skills development; health, sanitation, and safety; livelihood and enterprise development; environmental stewardship; access to energy; and leadership enhancement and attitude development.
Through its various programmes all over the Philippines, PSFI has also contributed in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals adopted by world leaders in September 2015.
To date, PSFI has touched more than 12 million lives. However, its mission is far from over. There are more needs to address, more partnerships to forge, and more lives to improve.
By Rachael Nathanielsz
Article published on PSFI news magazine October 2017 issue