Apart from being a mother and a digital media practitioner, I am also an active volunteer for various causes since after the typhoon Haiyan (local name: Yolanda) hit most parts of Visayas last November 2013.
During the first 6 months after Haiyan, I was able to initiate projects under my group called the Kindred Nomad Project. We did two relief operations in response to the immediate needs of the typhoon victims in my hometown, Merida, Leyte — a fifth class municipality located between Ormoc City and the progressive town of Isabel. We have also provided native housing materials for 10 families and in partnership with a Manila-based group called Project Enkindle, we have also installed solar panels in the same area. On top of that, I have also joined Project Enkindle to other affected areas in Northern Cebu: Malapascua, Bantayan and Camotes Islands.
We all have different things to do and areas of expertise when it comes to organizing community-based projects. There are organizations that focuses on a specific area such as children and families, fishing communities and marine conservation, agriculture, renewable energy, clean up movement and so much more. Each of these groups has done so much and some have even existed for decades that one of the things I have learned after Haiyan and being able to volunteer with different organizations and individuals is the importance of collaboration.
In my own experiences since I started volunteering, things were made easier and faster whenever we reach out to other organizations especially if their area of focus isn’t our strength and vice versa. For example, when Project Enkindle had their solar panels, our group had volunteers who knew which area needed immediate light supply after the typhoon. We have prepared the logistics before the scheduled installation and made the necessary arrangements where they can stay. We have also asked for assistance from the barangay officials in identifying the beneficiaries and we interviewed the families to validate the information they have given us. The installation went smoothly and we even made more projects together.
What if we all come together, continue doing what we are already good at towards the same goal? Why do you think the local government provides livelihood programs for families and children? Why are there association/cooperatives that help the fisher folk make a living without harming the marine life or programs that could improve the lives of our farmers? Why are we cleaning the coastal areas or do mangrove planting? Why do we care so much about the things and people around us? You know there’s one common answer to that: You, your organization, their group and I, we all want to make a difference and make our world a better place to live in.
Where else should we start from but in our own community, our city and in the spirit of bayanihan, we can make the Philippines much more fun and a better country. Sounds too ambitious? But then again, we are starting in our community and as we move and collaborate with different sectors – students, professionals, business owners, non-profit organizations, individuals, our local government up to the national government, we can make that ambitious goal a reality in progress.
I assure you, my friends, it is not happening overnight nor will things change over a year. Because it is a continuous process. Haiyan isn’t the beginning. We have already gone through a lot of challenges in politics, religion, natural disasters and differences among each other’s ideals and Haiyan is just one of them. The wrath of climate change and its effects are catching up on us. What we need to do is learn from the past and from each other, collaborate, prepare and work together as one.