Last August 6, iVolunteer held the first hybrid Partners’ Meetup. Some members and partner organizations met in person for the first time since the pandemic, while the rest joined online.
Even before the pandemic, it’s been a tradition for iVolunteer to gather their partner organizations into one place to strengthen the bond and to understand areas where help could be provided. The Partners’ Meetup is like a gathering of friends where everyone gets the chance to talk and to listen to each other’s advocacies, projects, and problems. In a way, it’s also an avenue to draw strength and inspiration from each other in a world that keeps on evolving.
For iVolunteer, their partner organizations are just as important as their volunteers. iVolunteer wouldn’t have made it this far without them. This writeup is dedicated to them, to put the spotlight on them and appreciate the works they’ve been doing. That said, here’s a brief recap and overview of the partners who made time to present their organizations during the meetup:
- Tulong sa Kapwa Kapatid Foundation (2KK) – This is a Non-Profit Organization (NGO) that focuses on education for the poor. Migi Lapid, the Executive Director, proudly shared how the organization grew since they started in Payatas in 2003. In 2KK, they treat each other as a “Kapatid” or sibling in English. During the pandemic, they still pushed through with their tutorials and scholarship programs, but the former they did online. They serve 3 communities: Payatas, Sampaloc and Smokey Mountain.
- Nature Awareness and Conservation Club Inc. – True to its name, this organization helps fight climate change mainly by promoting sustainable ecotourism. Violeta Imperial, their Social Responsibility Specialist, took the stage to share the physical volunteering activities that they have now resumed. They organize tree planting activities, turtle patrols, and sustainability talks. During the meetup, they were recognized for being one of the two organizations who engaged the most volunteers last June through the iVolunteer website.
- Project Pearls – This NGO aims to break the cycle of poverty by ensuring that children have access to basic necessities: food, education and healthcare. Karen Beblanas, the Partnerships and External Relations Manager, and Jay-R Panagsagan, the Community Service Program Manager, have been regular attendees of the Partners’ Meetup since its first session. Their organization cultivates scholars from early childhood up until college graduation. They started in Ulingan in 2010 but when that community was relocated to Bulacan in 2013, they decided to follow their scholars. Like many NGO’s they ventured into online tutorials during the pandemic. Fortunately, they’ve already resumed accepting physical volunteers in their Tondo community.
- The Storytelling Project – TSP prides itself with promoting the love for learning through storytelling. Daniel Benito, the Executive Director, shared a story of how a mother he met was so grateful for their donated school supplies because they knew they couldn’t provide those to their children. During the pandemic, they focused on providing Hiraya Kits (containing storybooks, school supplies and art materials) and organizing online Kamustahan sessions. The latter became an avenue for kids to socialize outside of their family members, something that the pandemic took from them. This year, TSP is celebrating its 10th year anniversary.
- La Liga Mariquina Inc.– Unlike what most people automatically think, this NGO doesn’t just operate within Marikina. They also support nearby communities. Their advocacy is to empower people, and they do it in various ways. Jahn Alejaga, the President & Chairman of the Board of Trustees, passionately shared how they pushed on with their programs even with changes and challenges posed by the pandemic. Since they couldn’t organize tree planting activities, they instead donated seedlings so that families could grow and use those at home. They also have other projects like online tutorials, donation of used books, mental health check ins and livelihood training programs. Recently, they already started accepting physical volunteers for their River Clean up and Tree Planting activities. Last July, they were also recognized as one of the two organizations who engaged the most volunteers.
Apart from those above mentioned, here are some of the stories that were shared during the meetup:
- Heart Warriors Philippines – With hospitals and funds focusing on pandemic necessities, Heart Warriors indeed had a more difficult time ensuring that their beneficiaries, children with congenital heart diseases, would continue to get the healthcare they needed.
- ATD Fourth World Philippines – As they transition back to physical volunteering, they shared that the most challenging part is encouraging people to take the risk and volunteer in person.
- Silid Aralan, Inc. – The limited mobility that the pandemic caused made it extra challenging for them to manage their 10 learning hubs nationwide.
- Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Life – This international organization, founded by a Korean war veteran, advocates for world peace. They are currently putting much of their efforts into the International Law for Peace which they drafted with the intention of it reaching the United Nations (UN). They hope to prevent wars like the current Russian-Ukraine war.
Lastly, here are some of the most powerful thoughts spoken during the meetup as volunteers from different organizations rally each other towards continuously fighting for their advocacies.
"Peace is very inclusive, it should be for everyone." ~ Maricar Feliciano, Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Life “Hindi ko makakalimutan si Nanay Myrna...Hindi pa siya nagsasalita umiiyak na siya. Hindi ko makalimutan 'yong sinabi niya: 'Salamat po kasi itong mga bagay na binigay niyo sa anak ko, ito 'yong mga bagay na 'di ko mabibigay sa kanila.'” ~ Daniel Benito, The Storytelling Project
"Oo, nakakatakot. Oo, delikado. Pero anong mangyayari doon sa mga partner communities natin? Anong mangyayari sa mga bata kung hindi tayo gagalaw? Ako kasi personally, I do believe that non-government organizations and civic organizations exist for this very moment." ~Jahn Alejaga, La Liga Mariquina
It was indeed a comfort to know that with all the challenges that the unprecedented pandemic caused, these organizations are still thriving. As the outside world becomes safer (hopefully), adjustments will again be made to encourage more volunteers to go back to physical volunteering. But these volunteer leaders are ready to face these challenges head on, with their hearts guiding them all the way.
To get to know the rest of iVolunteer’s partner organizations, visit this website link: https://www.ivolunteer.com.ph/organization
For those who wish to become one of iVolunteer’s partner organizations, send an email to email@example.com.
Written by: Lorraine Rañoa, iVolunteer Philippines
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