Today, my friends from the Volunteer in Cebu are celebrating the birth of their organization following the aftermath of the earthquake that hit Bohol last October 15,2013.This is a celebration of friendship and unity in the midst of natural disasters that happened in our country.
I met these amazing people in a local-based travel community called Couchsurfing-Cebu which is starting to reach its peak in the city through local meetups and trips organized by its local members. One of the first activities I have joined was a feeding outreach for the fisher folk in Cordova who were affected by the oil spill. Since then, I have been joining the weekly meetups they have.
It was the kind of friendship you’ll have not because you came from the same school or you work in one company but because you are like-minded people who have the same interests bringing you closer with each other.
When the earthquake happened in Bohol, this same group of people have started to organize a relief operation. It wasn’t that hard to bring people together for two reasons: people were very willing to contribute something for our brothers and sisters in Bohol and the people behind Volunteer in Cebu exactly knew who to reach out to for help.
The group has a monthly activity called the “Booze Cruises” where friends and Couchsurfers rent a motorized boat that will bring the group in the middle of the ocean around Mactan channel while having a good party. In October 2013, the group has decided to do a different kind of Booze Cruises. Instead, they organized a one-day relief operation.
In October 26, 2013, after a week of preparation, sleepless nights, packing of relief goods and bringing volunteers to join, the group took the ferry going to Tubigon, Bohol. No one had an experience when it comes to relief operations however what the group brought was their willingness to do what they can to extend help to the earthquake victims.
On that day, the group was able to provide packed relief goods straight to some of the affected barangays in Sagbayan, Tubigon, and Inabangga, Bohol by over 100 volunteers to 800 families with the following:
- tarp for temporary shelter
- 90 liters of water
- a mosquito net
- a blanket
- a kilo of rice
- 2 packets of noodles
- 2 canned goods
They were also able to deliver relief goods to 280 families living in Batasan, an islet in Bohol last November 10, 2013 with 20 volunteers.
2 days before the scheduled trip to Batasan, Bohol, super typhoon Haiyan (local name: Yolanda) hit most parts of the Visayas region. Right after the Batasan trip, the group decided to help one of the Cebu islands close to every traveler’s heart, Bantayan Island.
They had their first relief operation for Bantayan Island, Cebu last November 15, 2013. Since then, they’ve done 7 volunteer trips to Northern Cebu until April 15.
From their first relief operation in Bohol, the group finally decided to sit down together and decide how far their commitment will go. Thus, the birth of Volunteer in Cebu.
On the other hand, I got busy with my own initiatives in my hometown Merida, Leyte which was also affected by the super typhoon that I was only able to join the group in Bantayan Island during their New Year’s volunteer trip. It was a good way to start the year 2014 and my first time to see the island after the typhoon.
It was a weekend before classes were scheduled to start when Volunteer in Cebu delivered packs of school supplies to over 700 students of Okoy Elementary School, 390 students of Sta. Fe Elementary School and the students of Bantayan Special Education Center.
I am happy to have met these beautiful people of Volunteer in Cebu and even meeting more people in every activity. They do not wish to be the biggest, most successful organization in Cebu however they do whatever they can to contribute to the community they live in.
The group has gone a long way and gets even more serious about their bi-weekly feeding programs for the malnourished children in different barangays around Cebu City to help fight hunger in their own little ways. For more information of the group and their projects, please take time to visit them on www.VolunteerInCebu.com