Higaonon Solidarity: Growing global stewards together

Discover how the tree growing project is nurturing environmental stewardship among global stewards through cross-cultural collaboration.

Columbans with teachers on the launch day of tree plantation project in Solihull
Columbans with teachers on the launch day of tree plantation project in Solihull

In an inspiring effort to connect communities across the globe in environmental stewardship, primary schools in the Archdiocese of Birmingham are being invited to partner with the Higaonon indigenous community on the island of Mindanao, Southern Philippines. This collaboration is part of the Higaonon Tree Growing Project: Seeds of Change, facilitated by the Columban Missionaries. The project aims to engage children in Birmingham with the vital task of nurturing our planet, while fostering a deep connection with the rich ecosystems of the Philippines.

The initiative seeks to involve over 25 Catholic schools in a five-year commitment, focusing on the planting and nurturing of indigenous Philippine trees. This effort is not just an environmental cause; it is a rich educational opportunity that integrates the principles of Catholic Social Teaching—Solidarity, Rights and Responsibilities, and Stewardship—with practical learning in Science and Geography.

As climate change increasingly affects vulnerable communities worldwide, the firsthand experiences of the Higaonon people with environmental challenges provide invaluable lessons in resilience and activism. This project is in tune with the calls to action from Pope Francis in his encyclicals Laudato Si’ and Fratelli Tutti, as well as the recent papal exhortation Laudate Deum, which urge a compassionate response to environmental degradation.

Beyond fundraising, the Higaonon Tree Growing Project is envisioned as a journey of education, faith formation, and solidarity. The Columban Missionaries will support this journey by offering resource packs each term that include assembly presentations, lesson plans, collective worship plans, and suggestions for solidarity actions. This educational content is designed to deepen students’ understanding of environmental stewardship and their role in the global community.

Additionally, the project will offer live zoom encounters with individuals in the Philippines, including indigenous people, activists, missionaries, and youth. These interactions aim to foster a sense of global community and shared responsibility for our planet.

The initiative commenced with a special event for lead teachers at St Columban’s in Solihull, followed by a series of engaging activities. On a separate day, there was a tree planting and liturgy event in the gardens of St Columban’s, symbolizing the commitment of the young participants to environmental stewardship and global solidarity.

By connecting children in Birmingham Archdiocese with the Higaonon community of Mindanao, the Higaonon Tree Growing Project seeks not only to contribute to reforestation efforts in the Philippines but also to nurture a generation of informed, compassionate, and proactive global citizens. This initiative represents a hopeful step towards a more sustainable and interconnected world.

Read more about the Tree Plantation in Solihull

Delve into how students, Columban missionaries, and refugees joined forces to plant over 2000 trees, showcasing community-driven environmental stewardship and optimism.

Click here