SMI Story: Helping turn a young girl's dream of a brighter tomorrow into reality

Ever since she was a young girl, Nelsie Distura – or Nene as she is fondly called by her friends – dreamt of being able to uplift her family from poverty and make a positive impact on the lives of her fellow Blaans in Tampakan, South Cotabato.
Onse kaming magkakapatid.  Ako ang bread winner sa amin. Kaya kahit noong bata pa ako, gusto ko talaga na makatulong sa aking pamilya at sa aking mga kababayan. Kasi, nakikita ko kung gaano kahirap ang aming community, lalo na sa mga IPs (Indigenous Peoples), parang sa tingin ko noon, talagang discriminated kami," Nene shared.
Nene believed that only through education can she make a difference and be able to help improve the socio-economic conditions of her family and her tribal community.
Pursuing her dream, Nene became a full scholar of Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI) in 1997 where she was able to finish High School and finally graduated in 2005 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education (BEd), major in Science and Health, at the Notre Dame of Marbel University. She also passed the Licensure Exam for Teachers in September that same year.
SMI is the Government’s partner in the exploration, development and utilization of the Tampakan Copper-Gold Project, which is one of the largest undeveloped copper-gold deposits in the world.
As a responsible mining company, SMI has already poured more than PhP1.2 billion in financing various social development projects and activities that are aimed at promoting the general welfare, advancing the socio–economic and health conditions of the communities where the Tampakan Project is located and helping talented and deserving students to complete their tertiary education and find meaningful employment.
SMI immediately recruited Nene as a Community Relations Assistant. This opened new opportunities for her and SMI to connect with the communities within SMI’s Tampakan Project area, partner  and positively impact their lives. 
"Siyempre, tuwang-tuwa ako! Kasi, may trabaho na agad ako, matutulungan ko na ang mga kapatid ko at nagkaroon pa ng oportunidad para makatulong sa aking mga kababayan," Nene added.
Nene is just one of around 800 SMI scholars from the communities within the project area who have graduated from various colleges and universities, and one among the many empowered women of SMI. 
In fact, 40 percent of all the company's workforce are women, most of whom are holding managerial and supervisory functions in Legal, Engineering, Community Relations, Health and Safety, Finance, Human Resources, and Administration departments.
The company takes pride in its values and culture that promote "responsibility", "fairness", and "respect". It provides a gender-balanced, inclusive, and safe workplace where women are empowered to thrive and succeed.
For 18 years now, Nene is proud to be working in an industry that contributes to economic development and societal progress through community development for Blaan and other tribal communities, not only in her town in Tampakan but all other Indigenous Cultural Communities in the SOCCSKSARGEN and Davao Regions.
Her passion for serving her fellow Blaan gives her fulfillment in knowing that she is making a difference and helping to contribute to the improvement of their lives and well-being.
Nene also proudly shared that she has recently been promoted as Community Development Supervisor, where she now has a bigger role and more opportunities to fulfill her dream.
"Ang sabi ko nga sa aking sarili, parang tinadhana kami ng SMI. Kasi, iisa ang aming passion - that is to serve others, to serve our community for a brighter tomorrow. Imagine, simula noong high school ako, hanggang nagtapos ng college, andiyan ang SMI. Nagkatrabaho ako sa SMI. Natupad ang mga pangarap ko, dahil sa SMI. Salamat SMI!," Nene proudly said. (30)


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