The Ati people of Panay Island are the best known of the Filipino Negritos (Spanish term of Ati). This indigenous tribe is credited with welcoming history's first Malay from Borneo in the fourteenth century. The Ati have retained their dialect with traces of the ancient terms of "Kinaray-a" and dialects of the present time "Hiligaynon."
Unfortunately, the Ati people are often discriminated against due to their dark-skinned appearance and lack of education. As a result, many women and children are forced to work menial jobs in order to survive. This lifestyle perpetuates the lack of education among the Ati youth, making it extremely difficult to break free from the depressed socio-economic class in which they now reside.
Food, Shelter and Education
CJMI strives to provide the basic necessities such as food, clothing, shelter, and healthcare through monetary and supply donations. One of the critical needs is basic food and CJMI has found that providing core farmers with better means to grow their own food is critical.
The Ati living in Malay were the original inhabitants of Boracay Island, now a highly sought after international resort destination because of its beautiful white sand beaches. Having lost their residency on their ancestral lands as the tourism trade increased, the Ati were pushed out of numerous other places where they attempted to settle. CJMI, through their Philippine foundation, have acquired a tract of land for the Ati community to live on.
A group of Ati women were able to secure proper permits and DepEd approvals to open a preschool in the village through the encouragement and support of CJMI. This small success is a huge piece in the long-range vision of the ministry to empower the Ati within their God-given abilities. Thanks to generous gifts by two outside organizations, the Carla Ati Learning Center has a sturdy new home!