THE KWENTISTA (Storyteller)

For one dedicated man who relentlessly pursued his passion for service, volunteering isn’t just a part-time activity. It became his way of life.

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The Advocacy

Rey Bufi (Kuya Rey) is a simple gleeful person. His love for kids and his hope for our nation brought him to where he is right now.  He believes that if we want to have a progressive society, we must start with the children.

His passion started as early as his undergraduate years as a Philosophy student, where he actively participated in school activities in addressing societal issues like literacy. His degree demanded a lot of reading to which he was not exposed much in his younger years. The struggle inspired him to teach kids aged 7-10 the importance of reading. He believes that if we want to build a better nation, we must start young. Also, as the youngest in the family of seven, he also saw the importance of helping out in household responsibilities.

This hope paved way to the small beginnings of The Storytelling Project (TSP). He founded this non-profit organization that aims to instill love for reading through their 21-day storytelling program in remote communities. They also incorporate basic subjects such as math and science as well as dancing and singing in every session so that kids will grow to see reading and learning as fun, and not as a burdensome activity.

“Serving God is serving others. I am not a very religious person. I believe that faith is something personal. Service to people makes you human. Naniniwala rin ako na tayong mga tao ay likas na mabuti (And I believe people are naturally good.)” he said.

First Time Volunteer

He recalled his first experience as a volunteer way back his college days in Montalban, Payatas smiling. He was then invited by a friend to join an outreach for kids. Soon enough, he explored more volunteer activities as he worked for a telecommunications company. One of those, Kuya Rey committed his Saturdays read stories to kids in Palanan, Makati and Malibay, Pasay even after his affiliation to this telecommunications company where he worked for.

He admitted that he was shy at first. “May feeling ako na di ako pwedeng mag suggest ng initiatives. Tapos noong may napanood akong magaling na kwentista, nasabi ko sa sarili ko; naku di ata ako storyteller, iba yung galing niya!(I was so shy that I felt I can’t suggest any initiatives. And when I saw a storyteller, I felt inferior, he was admirable.) But in the end I realized, we are all storytellers, we have our own way of telling stories.”

To gain his confidence, he practiced and attended workshops and after all of that, he felt that he is ready to tell stories to kids as a certified “kwentista.”

A leap of faith

Realizing that he wanted to put more time in his outreach activities, he quit his full time job and took a part time job to fully manage TSP. He got a job as insurance agent as a part time job as he on the other hand is taking small vital steps for TSP. He ventured off to various provinces for a month, stayed in the schools, and began his reading advocacy.

This became one of the toughest chapters in his life. His family and friends began to question his choices pointing out that he should secure a stable job for his future family. Despite all these, Kuya Rey remained focused and steadfast in his advocacy.

Now, he is starting to reap the fruits of his labor. “I do workshops for teachers, for NGO’s, and mostly I work as a CSR provider. I also provide services for a telecommunications company in their CSR project which happens to be storytelling. Masaya na nagagawa mo yung gusto mo, may sweldo ka pa.”

Better Kids

With baby steps and taking on one community at a time, the TSP saw visible results of their efforts. They noticed that through their reading activities, they are also training children that they don’t force them to write a book report or enumerate the setting or characters. We give them the confidence that the material is easily understandable.

Key Take-Away(s) in Volunteering

As a volunteer veteran, Kuya Rey has shared to us some key points he learned as a volunteer:

  • In volunteering, we get intangible things. Influencing a kid or two in your lifetime might mean that these kids will influence more kids, the advocacy continues.
  • Most of the time, kids teach us more than we teach them. Kids teach us patience. They teach us to appreciate things- small or big. And best of all, they teach us the purity of the heart. They don’t hold grudges.
  • Kuya Rey believes that there are two types of volunteerism. First, if you have discovered it thru others and second, if that you have known that it is what you wanted for a long time.

Kuya Rey’s Advice on Volunteers

“Find your passion. Explore volunteer opportunities. Find where you enjoy most. Coz it’s easier to leave things when you get tired and you’re not happy with it and when you think you’re tired of what you’re doing, always go back to your happiness.”

Let’s start a culture of reading.

by Jhala Grace Salas

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