Only five years after World War 2 ended, the Philippines was still reeling from the devastation and chaos of the cataclysm. The armed conflict left more than 200,000 Filipino civilians dead. In 1950, widows and orphans of the war roamed the streets of the city of Manila, homeless and hungry.

This miserable situation compelled American missionary Madaleine Klepper to put up the Methodist Social Center (MSC). Aided financially by the Women’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church of New York in the United States of America, Ms Klepper acquired a 6,000-square-meter lot in Sampaloc District in Manila, which served as the MSC operational base.

Thus born the Philippines’ first social development, non-government organization (NGO), which was created as a moral response to the challenge of helping the poor in their struggle for genuine human development.

In the late 1960s, this United Methodist Church-affiliated institution also became a center of social activities and a sanctuary of student activists and others advocating for social and political changes who were violently dispersed during demonstrations around the city especially the historic Mendiola Street, which leads to Malacanang Palace.

In 1971, the MSC, now under the leadership of Mrs. Ruth Prudente, was incorporated as a non-stock and non-profit organization under a new name—Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI). After a few years, the Women’s Foreign Missionary Society formally turned over the ownership of MSC to KKFI.

Under Mrs. Nellie Mercado, the KKFI in the mid-1970s and throughout the 1980s continued its pro-poor activities, initiating a number of livelihood projects for the marginalized sectors and management training for church workers and executives and staff of NGOs.

When Mrs. Priscilla Atuel became KKFI’s executive director, she continued the programs of Mrs. Mercado and was able to put up a three-storey building in Gilead Center, as a temporary shelter for street and neglected children which is located inside a recently purchase 1.4-hectare property in Barangay Tibag, Pulilan, Bulacan.

When Ms Nancy Caluya-Nicolas took over the helm of KKFI, she introduced innovative community-based development programs that are focused on education, in the belief that it is the key to escaping the vicious circle of poverty. Ms Nicolas brought to KKFI program areas the Alternative Learning System (ALS) in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd), the Supervised Neighborhood Play (SNP) Technical, Vocational and Skills Development and other community development programs. She was also able to make the Foundation sustainable and financially secure by optimizing the income-generating potentials of KKFI facilities.

It was 71 years ago when Ms Klepper had a vision – to translate her Christian faith and Methodist heritage by helping the least, the last, and the lost in the city of Manila after the World War 2. The succeeding executive directors of the foundation never lost Ms Klepper’s original vision and her determination to help. Since then, the KKFI has achieved revolutionary transformation in many communities in and around Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

The KKFI is still engaged in programs that address the needs of at-risk children, women, and their families. It will continue to selflessly share all its resources in the pursuit of its mission—to serve the disadvantaged in a caring and liberating tradition.