The seed

By Christina Alejandro
Volunteering, No.8

Sometimes situations seem so bad that you feel whatever you do won’t make a difference at all. But in my life, some things changed some things for the better.

I first heard of Brother Joe Dean from my mother. She told me he was a man who, with his wife and family, opened their apartment gate to the homeless, the street children. They would feed them, sing with them, tell them stories, play with them, teach them about goodness. Their lives got so intertwined with these people that Joe Dean’s kids even developed respiratory illnesses from them.

I marveled at how one family sought to make a difference in the lives of these homeless children, numbering in the thousands in Metro Manila. How could they stand being shunned by their neighbors due to the noise from and smell of the children? How could they exchange a life of security and normalcy for an uncertain future dependent on the generosity of others, just to care for these poorest of the poor?

One Christmas, my friends and I decided on a project called “Heart and Bowl” for Bro. Joe Dean’s motley group of children. On a Saturday morning, we gave them meal, games and entertainment. That was the first time we met Bro. Joe Dean.

He was a robust cheerful man with the looks of a trim Santa Claus and a Visayan accent. He stuck out like a sore thumb among the sun-browned complexion of the children but he certainly spoke their language and they called him their “kuya”.

Bro. Joe Dean thanked us profusely as if we had given them not just momentary joys but a lifetime of memories. He told us how he started with just one child, feeding him, and how the others just came, how their numbers increased to the hundreds, and how they would come regularly to see him.

“Ang Paglipad ng Mga Ibon” by Blessel Carlos*

Deep in my heart I felt, how could this kind of situation go on without much funding or support? I secretly expected it to fail eventually. Little did I know that Bro. Joe Dean had more than human resources to take on this mission of caring for the street children. He was a man of deep prayer. He was serving with great gratitude and joy for this calling from the Lord.

Bro. Joe Dean and his family moved to a new home where the neighbors were more welcoming of the children. A restaurant chain agreed to give their leftover food for their cause and Bro. Joe Dean would pick these up late at night after closing time from their different branches. The front of their apartment now has a new name, “He Cares Foundation,” to show the children that God cared for them even if no one else seemed to.

Sometimes, when you plant a seed and forget about it, it still grows. Sometimes you don’t even know that you had planted a seed!

After a year or so from our first visit, I got a group of three friends to plan  a project to regularly help with the feeding.

One of my friends rallied her Singles Prayer Community to hold monthly feeding days, masses and value formation lessons in the foundation along with free medical check-ups and treatment for the children!

Another friend took the foundation’s mission to heart. She prepared a formal proposal to her company to sponsor the children’s education and got her company’s approval for scholarships! She also organized a pool of volunteers to tutor the children. Today this company sponsors more than a hundred of the He Cares children!

One day at our family gift shop, a good friend in college saw one of the coin banks for He Cares Foundation at the cashier. Believing that the foundation must be legitimate and worth looking into, she visited and visited and visited more. With another classmate, she produced a short documentary video about the children which was shown on TV and used for presentations to corporations and possible benefactors. She became one of the most dedicated volunteer workers and council members. She does a great job liaising for the children’s needs. What my friend was doing meant a lot to me too. With her intelligence, credentials, work experience, she could be earning a lot for herself during her extra time and saving for her future. Instead, she had chosen to work for people who could never repay her efforts.

The Foundation has been in existence for 7 years now and I have seen it grow tremendously in the past 3 years with amazement. It was soon approved by the Department of Social Welfare as an accredited foundation.

Livelihood sessions (also for the mothers of the street children), dental missions, summer camps, prayer meetings and other events were held in the caring center. A vehicle was made available at an unbelievably low price so they finally had a means of transport.

Since I was dabbling in website authoring during the days I met Bro. Joe Dean, I made a site that features what the foundation is all about. A Christian community in France saw the site and adopted it as their means of social action. They sent a young Frenchman to work with Bro. Joe Dean for a year. He would send pictures and reports for the community to evaluate. Their dream is to build a permanent shelter for the children who cannot be found homes for.

Fighting to change the children’s way of life–drugs, prostitution, crime, sickness and extreme poverty were overwhelming, but the people who have reached out to care have also been overwhelming.

Bro. Joe Dean says he sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night and prays for our family and for others who have helped the children. Though he has gone through many tragedies with these children his heart is full of joy knowing God has been there all this time and it is His work after all and all Bro. Joe Dean needs to do is keep on keeping on.

I guess it’s true that “anyone can count the seeds in an apple but only God can count how many apples are in a seed.” Let’s keep planting seeds where we can, no matter how little and inconsequential they may seem, and at the right time, we may yet see a rich harvest.


He Cares Foundation is located at 4-A Road 9 Cor. Road 1 Project 6, QC. T 454.0985 and 928.8910, M 0917.401.0752, Bro. Joe Dean Sola.

*Ms. Blessel “Bleps” Carlos is a full-time graphic designer. She graduated from the University of the Philippines with a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts major in Visual Communication.

Ang sabi ni Bleps: “Para sa akin, ang mga ibon ay para na rin yung mga taong na-inspire ni Bro. Joe Dean. Dahil kay Bro. Joe, natuto silang lumipad at mangarap habang sinasaboy ang mga buto sa kanilang paglipad. Sinisimbolo ni Bro. Joe ang mga puno sa paligid kung saan nakuha ng mga ibon ang mga buto.

Sa makulay na kabundukan, pinakita ko lang kung gaano kasaya ang mga bata kapag sila ay nakakalaro sa bahay ni Bro. Joe. Sa palagay ko ay pakiramdam nila ay para silang nasa fairy tale pag naglalaro kina Bro.Joe. Makulay, masaya, at may pagmamahalan, di tulad sa lansangan na magulo at parang walang pag-asa.”

The Best Volunteer Experience Winning Essays, 2004
Pinoy-Rin Inc. and the PNVSCA

Feature Contents

Walk the thought:

Begin the work of Christmas
Time again
Love, respect, stewardship, I
March 8 and a book for doctors
In the summer garden
Spirituality from a volunteer’s eyes

Volunteering:

Going beyond philanthropy
Demystifying mental illness through poetry
Building rainbows of hope
And these are my roots
I want to do all I can do for this town
I want to do all I can do for this town (con’t.)
Children have dreams too!
My GX volunteering journey 
The seed

Volunteer management:

Kaisa sa 0-6: Another common ground

Issues and others:

Irony of volunteering

My GX volunteering journey

By Ryan Anthony M. Bestre
Volunteering, No. 7

“Get ready for the most challenging six months of your life,” read the ad on volunteering. The most challenging six months of my life?  Bring it on!

Global Xchange (GX) is a youth volunteering program of the Voluntary Service Overseas that allows young people to initiate positive change by helping organizations and communities both in the Philippines and the United Kingdom. I feel a sense of fulfillment by volunteering, knowing that I can do something good for others without cost in our dog-eat-dog world. I decided that the corporate world was not my place, resigned from my job, and took the challenge of the GX.

GX Team 62 with Bradford City’s Mayor

After all the rigors of application, assessment, training, and clearances (I had to gain weight before I was medically cleared), we were off for the first phase of the program.  Our destination – Bradford, West Yorkshire, located in the northern part of England.  It is a small, friendly city with diverse people and culture, very similar to my home city, Baguio, in terms of size, weather, and the general feel of the place.

Our group comprised of 10 British and 10 Filipinos. Each one had a counterpart with whom we lived and worked with in a cross-cultural environment.

I had to get used to the language and the food. Bradford had its own British accent where “funny” is “foony” and “sunny” is “soony”.  Rice-eating Filipinos learned to eat bread or cereals for breakfast and sandwich with fruits or crisps (that’s how the Brits call their chips) for lunch.

My first volunteer placement was at Seen and Heard, a program of Barnardo’s, a national charity organization that takes care of young people. My British counterpart and I interviewed some of the organization’s independent visitors and produced a promotional video from it.

My second volunteer work was at Abigail’s Project, an organization that provides accommodation for destitute asylum seekers, people who fled their countries due to political or religious persecution but became impoverished in the places where they sought protection.  We helped set up the house where they would be staying and assisted establishing the office of the organization.

Peace presentation in the arms museum

The Community Action Days (CADs) afforded the whole team to work on various community projects and activities from cleaning up and gardening to advocacy projects such as the peace display and presentations in an arms museum.  We showcased Filipino games and dances, songs and poetry during our Filipino Fun Day and Night. We got a bit serious and discussed global issues like poverty, peace and development during Global Citizenship Days.

We tried to make sense of what we did. We needed to validate that our volunteer work was actually making a difference.  For instance, we asked how gardening could be significant.  We may not understand now neither see the results of what we did but I’m sure that the effects of volunteering are exponential, if not for others then for the inner self.

At Keighley (author 2nd from left, lower row)

After more than 7,200 collective hours of volunteering in Bradford, we traveled to Mindanao for the second phase of the program.

Mindanao is an impression of danger and war, but the conflict in this Land of Promise is complex and historical.  It is conflict over the rich natural resources of the region where greed and ignorance fuel all the negativity associated to the place.

My volunteer work in Iligan City was totally different from what we had in Bradford.  We helped the Lanao Educational Arts for Development, Inc., a non-government organization that uses music and the arts for peace advocacy, organize a music festival for peace that promotes Iligan City and Mindanao as Zones of Peace.

Sports Fest at the School for the Deaf

During our CADs here, we had a sports fest at the School for the Deaf, tree planting with students and community locals, a fundraising gig, and play time with children in a disability rehabilitation center and kindergarten.

Because Iligan is such a small city, boredom set into me until the city was placed on yellow alert. We became anxious but had to be vigilant as the supposed ambush of the Philippine Marines by the Abu Sayyaf brewed war in Basilan. At that time I was reading Gracia Burnham’s “In the Presence of My Enemies,” an account of her kidnapping experience in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf.  We felt relieved when the situation sort of improved.

All in all my GX volunteering journey has been challenging, frustrating, rewarding, and fun.  I think I gained more than what I offered.  Volunteers would usually think they could change the world but in the end, they wouldn’t have quite changed others. Others change them instead.

This journey is a prelude to simply be the change I wish to see in the world.

Children have dreams too!

by Maricel H. Barahan
translated by Victor V. Amores
Volunteering, No.6

I am one of the youth who have dreamed of obtaining a wide range of knowledge for the improvement of our family life, but then, I was not able to finish a college degree. I only had one semester in college because my family could not support me financially. I stopped studying long ago and worked where work is available.

One of these is Learn and Achieve with People’s Instruction Support (L.A.P.I.S.), which I joined with much hesitation because I know that I am not that good in teaching though I have some notions about it. With no other options, I hesitantly attended the training seminar in Guiguinto for youth volunteers. There I came to know what the project was all about, what to do during my voluntary service, what was expected of me as a volunteer, and techniques for tutoring children in Grades 1 to 3.

January 5, 2004. This was The Day for it was the start of my voluntary service. I was lucky that my sister and I were assigned in the same school, the Tugatog Elementary School, which is near our residence. We were introduced to the teachers and to the school principal, Mrs. Nacu, who oriented us about what the school expected from us.

“Ma’am and Mika” by Jill Posadas*

My first session was a “knowing you” activity. I introduced myself to the children and they did the same. The session went smoothly. There were 30 pupils, all belonging to one section, who needed tutorial sessions. My sister and I divided them into two groups with each one of us handling her own group.

I observed that not all the children in my group could read and write. One child, she was called Mika, caught my attention. She looked like a mischievous child. She was wearing eyeglasses because of eye defect. As days passed, I became closer to them and they would sometimes call me “Ate Cel” or “Ma’am.” I felt happy that I could be called “Ma’am” even if I have not earned a degree in teaching. It feels satisfying, isn’t it?

One day our session was suspended because of a meeting and reset on the next day. One child approached me and said, “Ma’am, why didn’t you teach us? We want you to teach.”

I answered him, “I will teach tomorrow if you will read your lessons.”

“Yes, Ma’am,” he answered.

It could not be prevented that there children would turn mischievous during the tutorial sessions. I would call the erring child and ask him to read so that other children would not do the same things.

While they were having a break, Mika came to me and asked, “Ma’am, will you teach me to read? Because Ma’am Nacu said that if I could not read, I will not be promoted. I can read although it is not good enough.”

“Okay, you stay behind after our session and I will teach you.” Thus, I taught her after each session.

What was enjoyable was that she could be taught easily. Her teacher, Mrs. Judith, told me that Mika was slow in her reading development because of her defective eyes. Through my assistance, she learned to read.

I met her together with her grandmother. They told me, “Ma’am, your session is already over.” The grandmother told me, “Thank you, my daughter, for teaching my granddaughter. She will be in Grade 2 this coming school year!”

It is satisfying to think that I had contributed something to a child who, like me, has her dreams.

I miss the pupils because every time I see them passing by, they would always call me “ma’am.” They would always ask me when  I would teach again. I told them, “Even if I would not be able to teach you again, there would be other people like me to teach you. They are young people who, like me, hold with regard a little child with dreams.”


L.A.P.I.S. is a volunteer activity for the youth to help tutor grade school children who are slow learners. The children are tutored on English, Pilipino, and Mathematics. L.A.P.I.S. is a joint project of the Provincial Government of Bulacan, Department of Education and Barasoain Center for Innovative Education.

*Ms. Jill Posadas is a copywriter, freelance writer and freelance illustrator. Her projects included the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Workbook for Children and Greeting Cards for Museo Pambata. She has joined several group exhibits at the Galleries of Fine Arts, Ayala Museum and with Ilustrador ng Kabataan. She is a graduate of AB Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines.

According to Jill, her painting depicts the essay’s author teaching her student Mika how to read. Background colour suggests time to be around late afternoon/sunset. Bright spirals suggest beginnings of bright ideas or dreams or infinite possibilities that have been opened up for Mika now that she can read. How many more things will this little girl be able to achieve now, or how many of her dreams will she now be able to realize, thanks to the help of this particular volunteer teacher?

The Best Volunteer Experience Winning Essays, 2004
Pinoy-Rin Inc. and the PNVSCA

Core team and volunteers

The iVolunteer portal is run 100% by volunteers, a blessing we always acknowledge. From web design, editorial ‘structuring’, writing, editing and publishing, to social marketing, communications, networking and resource generation, everything here is volunteer effort.

Core Team 2011:

 

 

 

 

 

Ryan Anthony M. Bestre
Ryan is currently working as an Englsih as a Second Language Teacher and Special Events Coordinator. He is an environmentalist and volunteer at heart and is passionate about the environment, community work, performing, traveling, culture and people.

Julie T. Chan 

In the few years that Julie has been volunteering, she has learned to appreciate the poetry written by people who have experienced mental illness, the inspiring stories of volunteers, and the meaning of true stewardship of God’s creation. As our world faces the grave consequences of energy descent and environmental degradation, we invoke the spirit of volunteering in practicing conservation, cooperation and creative community solutions to save, heal and nurture the Earth.

 

 

 

 

Deanie Lyn Ocampo
Deanie is a teacher, researcher and development worker who promotes the welfare of infants and young children till age six years in our country. That field is now called Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD). She enjoys advocating for volunteerism because volunteers in action create and give inspiration, encouragement and love wherever they are. Communities filled with such good things is her vision of communities for ECCD children.

Regnard Kreisler Raquedan
Regnard is a graduate student at the Asian Institute of Management and an advocate of web standards and usability. He is the User Group Manager of the Adobe User Group-Philippines and Local Ambassador for the UXNet in Manila. He blogs at Standards Web Standards and The AIM Blogger.

Do you want to volunteer for iVolunteer.net.ph? Hurry, send us a note at ivolunteernetph@gmail.com

Volunteers 2011:

Cara Tizon, Meah Ang See, Ruth Pizarro, Rose Marie Cosio, Jose Jolly Villaviza

Volunteers 2001-2010:

(Atty) Abe Margallo, Abraham Pedrina Jr, Ang Chak Chi, Angela Yu, Anthony Sanchez, Blessel Carlos, CIUDAD band, Campaigns and Grey, Carl Edwin Tupas, Carmela Anne Molo, Celia de Jesus, Charlie Naval, Chaya Erika Go, Chito Dugan, Chona Ignalaga, Christine Ong, Christopher Layno, Christopher K Peabody, Christy Planco, Cielo Presas, (Dr) Cora PB Claudio, Creative Aid, Cristina Alejandro, Damcelle Torres, (Atty) Danilo V. Roleda, Darwin Santiago, Desiree Mendoza, Ditas Bermudez, Elbert Or, Elissa Escalante, Eliza Villarino, Emily Christine Dy, Evelyn Singson, Exequiel Dijamco, Fiona Norada, Froilan Grate, (Atty) Geronimo Sy, Gilbert Olaez, Gina Abella, Grace Pe-Bacani, HIBLA, JL Diaz, Jaclyn Abergas, Jaclyn Saez, Janette Tan-Lee, Jean Paula Khalaf, Jen Abaricia, Jenny Lyn Hernandez, Jerome Montemayor, Jerry Tieng, Jill Posadas, Jim Alabastro, Joan Villarente, Jonathan Juanillo, (Atty) Jong Navarro, Jose Mari Daclan, Judith Angela Alpay, Julie Chan, Junille Caritos Vasquez, Laiden Pedrina, Layeta Bucoy, Leidon Angeles Cruz, Lesley Lim, Liza Miraflor, Liza Ong, Maria Ocampo, Marie Pia Aguilar-Baldos, Marissa Joyce Wong, Marivel Aro, Mark Joaquin Ruiz, Marla Garin, McCann Erikson, Michael Velilla, Michelle Perez, Mitzie Correa, Naomi Corpuz, Norman Jiao, Nozomi Sugahara, Rechilda Magpayo, Regnard Kreisler Raquedan, Reina Guartico, Rizalino Alejandro, Robert Alejandro, Roberto Calingo, Romi Garduce, Ronalisa Co, Sanny Buncha, Shayne Merioles, Sheilan Villafranca, Spencer Ocampo, Steve Pareja, Suzanne Lu, Yoly Villanueva-Ong, Young Artists Fellowship for the Environment, Yusuke Araki

We might have missed other iV volunteers. So sorry. If you were one or you know others who are not included in the list above, please post the names in the comment box below, thanks!

I want to do all I can do for this town

by Deanie Lyn Ocampo
Volunteering, No.5

National heroes are not made because they have liberated a people. They are made because of their spirit of initiative and commitment throughout seasons of triumph and struggle. When opposition came, they responded positively and decisively. Their resolutions toughened with action, whether the benefits were for an oppressed country or for one desolate town.

“Treasures” (Batangas) by Ganny Tan

In 1892, the streamer Cebu brought Dr. Jose Rizal to far-away Dapitan, an outpost of the Spanish power in Mindanao under the jurisdiction of the Jesuits, where he lived in exile until 1896. This four-year interlude in his life would seem humdrum in contrast to his more exciting and threatening life charged by our Spanish conquistadores with propagating “errors concerning religion”, “anti-Spanish statements”, and revolutionary ideas. Life in Dapitan could be idyllic enough to quiet down a filibustero.

But when Rizal arrived in Dapitan, he wrote to Fr. Pablo Pastells, Superior of the Jesuits, “I want to do all I can do for this town.”

He worked hard to improve it and to raise the civic consciousness of the townspeople.

In Dapitan, Rizal became a sought-after eye specialist who catered to patients from different parts of the Philippines and Hong Kong. Though some were wealthy, most of his patients were very poor he had to give them medicine gratis. Rizal then became interested in local medicine, studied the curative value of plants, and prescribed these as well.

When there was malaria infestation, he drained the marshes for several months.

With tenacity and ingenuity, Rizal constructed a waterworks system where clean water flowed for several kilometers from a little mountain stream across the river from Dapitan to the distribution reservoir. He used his training in Ateneo de Manila University as expert surveyor, read more engineering books, and built this well-known water supply. His materials included lime burned from sea corals and the fluted tiles from house roofs. This aqueduct wound in and out among the rocks and across gullies in bamboo pipes supported by rocks or brick piers.

Perhaps it was for this project that Rizal invented a wooden machine that could make 6,000 bricks in one day.

Thanks to him, Dapitan enjoyed a street lighting system: Rizal used P500 paid to him by an English patient and lit the dark streets with coconut oil lamps.

In 1893, Rizal tried out his educational ideas by putting up a school and teaching 21 pupils. He taught morals, literacy, languages (Spanish and English), geography, history, mathematics, vocational work, nature study, and gymnastics. Except for five pupils, the rest did not pay tuition so he had assigned them to work in his garden, fields and construction projects in the community.

“Kataka-taka” by Ganny Tan

After the two-hour study in the afternoons, the pupils helped in the farms – they built fire to repel insects, pruned fruit-bearing trees of mangoes, lanzones, guyabanos, nangka, and enriched the soil with manure. They also had time for boxing, wrestling, swimming, arnis, and boating.

Rizal and his pupils studied the forests, coasts and its flora and fauna. He was able to collect 346 Philippine shells representing 203 species. He received scientific books and surgical instruments from colleagues in Europe because of his continued intellectual exchanges with them. Later, rare animal specimens which he discovered were named after him: Draco rizali (flying dragon), Apogonia rizali (small beetle), and Rhacophorus rizali (rare frog).

As an artist, Rizal molded some parts of the image of the Holy Virgin for the sanctuary in the Sisters of Charity’s chapel and designed its flawlessly beautiful and delicate curtain.

With the assistance of two nuns, Rizal also produced a masterpiece of majestic beauty that became a prized possession of the Santiago Church in Dapitan. It was a canvas oil painting behind the main altar, a scene depicting the court of Pontius Pilate, which the young Jesuit parish priest, Fr. Vicente Balaguer, had asked Rizal to make for Lent in 1894.

For “four years, 13 days, and a few hours,” our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, served the people of Dapitan as a doctor, farmer, businessman, artist, scientist, community worker, and volunteer.

As a Filipino volunteer then, he was also an everyday hero.

To the next page

Philippine Copyright 2011

I want to do all I can do for this town (con’t.)

by Deanie Lyn Ocampo
Volunteering, No.5

To the previous page

“Pwede Na” (Bamban, Tarlac) by Ganny Tan

Everyday heroes are those who thrive on getting things done and making things work locally. They overcome difficulties on the ground. They are skilled in adjusting and identifying priorities: if national politics is too disheartening, then they get their hands soiled down-to-earth to unceasingly help the common folk.

Rizal gave his talents to Dapitan because he knew that it is a community capable of attaining development and self reliance. Today, we too can envision the same for each barangay, municipality, city or province in our country.

Inspired by our national hero’s volunteer efforts in Dapitan, you can also be an everyday hero like him! Here are 11 volunteering ideas on community development and local governance which you can do this 2011:

1. Access and read the very important Medium-Term Development Plan of your municipality/city (not just the Annual Investment Plan) and interview your local planning and development coordinator regarding issues your local government faces.

“Bigger Kondol” by Ganny Tan

2. Help improve the efficiency of barangay agricultural support services such as the distribution system of planting materials and operation of collection and buying stations of farm produce.

3. Help design better curricula for young children in the kindergarten classes of your public schools. Develop instructional materials for teachers, share creative activities they can do, or teach them how to compose songs, poems and stories.

4. Get hold of the most recent DSWD accreditation results of day care workers and centers in your barangays. What do they have to improve on? With the community, plan how to address the needs of the Day Care Service in your locale.

5. Share techniques on family dynamics, counseling, social work, or conflict resolution with the Katarungang Pambarangay team to help them facilitate amicable settlement and speedy resolution of disputes.

6. Start an information and reading center. Survey the needs of children, youth and adults. Find second-hand books, posters and printed materials. Add a functional literacy program too!

7. Assist in research or projects on livestock and poultry, vegetable seed farms, medicinal plant gardens, fruit tree seedling nurseries, water and soil conservation, inter-barangay irrigation systems, and others.

8. Organize projects for primary health care, maternal and child care, and disease control. Help source medicines, medical supplies, and equipment for barangay health centers, maternity clinics, or municipal hospitals.

“Casita Ysabel” (Mabini, Batangas) by Chaya Go

9. Draft information and communication system designs. Help encode data or transcribe documents. Make better signage in and around government offices to guide people regarding procedures.

10. Study the solid waste disposal system and suggest ways to upgrade the general hygiene and sanitation conditions in the communities. Highlight ecotourism spots and educate residents on value-based principles and practices for sustainable development.

11. Read the Local Government Code of the Philippines. Then set an appointment with the mayor or any of the local government officials of your municipality/city, introduce yourself and proudly declare, “I also want to do all I can do for this town.”

Philippine Copyright 2011