I love today’s prompt: Volunteer! via Daily Prompt: Volunteer. It significantly flashbacks golden memories of my volunteering experiences. I live in a lovable country where volunteering opportunities can be found almost everywhere. Why?
First, it is prone to natural calamities such as earthquakes, typhoons, volcanic eruptions, etc. Second, it is a developing country where at least 26.3% (12Million as of 2015) of its population were found to be living under the poverty line. Some people do not have a complete access to the basic needs: food, shelter, education, and health care. I mentioned only two but there may be a lot more. If you want to work as a volunteer in the Philippines, please feel free to do so 🙂 Not only you will help/save lives; you will realize you ought to be thankful how blessed you are.
Here are some of lessons I’ve realized based on my personal volunteering experiences:
- You cannot give what you don’t have–LOVE
I visited Mindoro Philippines for the first time in 2012. As I hop from the city to the province, it is sad to easily notice that the rich and the poor exist side by side. I passed by huge buildings in the metropolis but upon reaching the other shore, there’s no electricity, poor sanitation, nipa huts which can be easily washed by strong rain away were standing in any way, mosquitoes are also ready to bite you–I recognized these during my stay in this particular province but I was not there to complain. I was there to help. Through volunteering, I’ve learned that you can have everything and give as much as you can–but without love, it is nothing.
- In volunteering, you will face unexpected circumstances. No matter what it is, carry yourself and deal with it.
Although the Filipino schools are excellent on its own structure, many parents are unable to pay for the required school supplies and uniforms. This realization has caused me and my BS friends to gather our own resources and produce what we can to make these kids happy ^_^
Aside from the material gifts we distributed, we also taught them how to pray, read, and sing songs. One remarkable thing for me during this particular project is that, I met this little boy. He was very silent and apparently sad (while the other kids were loud and excited about the presents that they received), I smiled and went close to him. I asked his name. He hesitated to talk to me. I continued by introducing my name and told him I have a younger brother whose name is the same as his. That’s the time his face lit up and talked to me. Few minutes later I gained his trust. He began to show a picture of his family. I was surprised! How come this kid keeps a family photo in his school notebook at all times? I smiled and asked him, “Can you tell me more about this beautiful picture?” Then he continued with a sad voice, “This is my mom, my dad, and me when I was a baby. I miss my parents so much. I want my mom to teach me my homework but I do not see them every day.” I could feel his soul. I couldn’t say a word. Honestly, I didn’t see that situation coming. So, I just asked his permission if I could hug him instead.I realized that you don’t necessarily have to talk all the time. Sometimes, all you have to do is LISTEN. ^_^
- Volunteers do not necessarily have the time.. they have the HEART (•~•)
In Summer 2013, my schedule was so busy. I worked full-time during the day, went to school full-time at night, did some online work night shift after classes. But this situation did not stop me from accomplishing my commitment with my church mates in the Values Formation Project for Police Trainees in the Philippines.
Every morning, these police trainees wake up early for their morning physical and spiritual (devotion) exercises. Every Sunday, we gather together for a fellowship. It was during this time that we got to know more about them. Police trainees come from different provinces in the Philippines. Some of them signed up for this even if they are not police graduates because they wanted a job that could help their family survive (sad reality: they are willing to risk their lives for the sake of their family. To protect the country is secondary). However with the help of the Values Formation Project which runs for 3-6 months, their mindset was reset: they are willing risk their lives for a better Philippines–to see every Filipino family secured and happy.
After the labour and joy of serving, it pays to see these Police Officers in full surrender to the King of kings. I am blessed to be part of this volunteer work. It’s really nice how some people can make you smile just by thinking about them.
- You give what is best available not what is left. The good seeds you plant today will bloom and someday flourish.
In 2015, my co-workers sponsored a project shoebox for the people in jail for Christmas. A jail is somewhere most people don’t want to go. Are you kidding me?–so you want to be kind to the lawbreakers? Yes, it was not easy to love the unlovable but we were not there to condemn them. We were there to show that we hate sin but not the sinner. Our visit emphasized that they are valued and there is still a room for change. Most of them are victims, too.
This is my first time enter a prison cell in the Philippines. The space is too crowded with prisoners. The sanitation is poorly observed. Family members seldom visit. They have needs (especially women) that the jail management could not provide (i.e. toiletries, sanitary napkin, etc.). Thus, we paid a visit and give the best of what is available from us. In the middle of the consultation, a young lady suddenly became teary-eyed as she accepted my present to her. She told me she missed her baby but couldn’t go home. She’s been in jail for several months for a crime she never intended to commit. Unfortunately, she was not being accorded properly by her prison mates. I could not assure her safety but I led her in prayer. Justice shall be served.
Few months later, I ran into this young lady. SHE’S FREE!! I didn’t recognize her at first, but she did recognize me. What an awesome surprise! She testified how good God is. I couldn’t hide the way I feel–I’m extremely happy for her. I’ve learned to never underestimate the power of kindness. It’s worth sharing a portion of your life to serve others. You gain.. you never lose.
- You have to feel you are making a difference not just doing something that has been thought up to keep you busy.
In 2016, I visited Canada. I stayed there for two months. After traveling to places, I had to stay home however, I didn’t wanna kill time–I wanted to maximize it. So when I had the opportunity to be part of the Summer Camp as a Teacher-Volunteer for super funny and brilliant students, I immediately grabbed it 🙂 It was a remarkable experience to be part of the lives of Noah, Josiah, Madison, Elijah, & Joana 🙂 While I was with them, I’ve been thinking a lot about the kids in Mindoro, Philippines–I wish they could also enjoy their childhood the ways the kids in this city do–going to parks, face painting, reading books, etc. instead of going to the fields/mountains to look for food. 😦
Lucky are these kids to have more than what they really need (tangible things). Moreover, I also witnessed how they were taught to give freely to the needy. One example is.. they were given an arts and crafts project–to build a paper house. With their own imagination, they could turn the plain paper house into a marvelous work of art. They were very creative!! The very simple paper house turned out to be an amazing piggy bank. Every day, they would put any amount in the paper house piggy bank in order for the kids who have no house in Kenya to buy tents. What an amazing way to teach children how to do volunteer work. Consequently, I also told them several stories about the kids in the Philippines who also do not have beautiful houses or anything. They were very interested and engaged with the topic of helping others. Indeed, it was a quality Summer for them and for me. I want to meet them all again in the future 🙂
Everyday is a season to plant seeds of LOVE. The seeds of kindness that you plant today will one day bloom in the hearts of all that you touch Keep shining! VOLUNTEER WHENEVER YOU CAN, WHEREVER YOU CAN.
Special Video Made with Love
The Official Traveler