Cloocan City, Philippines
September 28, 2012
Bayanihan is a Filipino term which originally referred to an old pre-Spanish tradition where entire villages helped families move by literally carrying their house to a new location. They would construct a strong frame out of bamboo, place the house on it, and then lift and carry the entire house.
Today it has come to refer to a spirit of kinship and camaraderie.
The sun was blazing as we headed to Barangay Hall in Cloocan City for a meeting of community volunteers. The meeting aimed to reconnect with our volunteers, gather their insights and prepare strategies and plans for the year. We arrived a few minutes late to find the hall full. Our volunteers were eagerly waiting.
In a country where poverty is the norm and the minimum wage is barely enough to sustain a family, it is inspiring to know people like our volunteers still exist. Despite busy schedules and family obligations, they offer their valuable time to make Save the Children’s sponsorship program a success.
One volunteer, Mary Rose, shared how the fulfilment they get from seeing children’s faces light up when they deliver sponsors’ cards, letters and packages, is enough to keep them going.
“It is difficult,” Ate Loida, the volunteers’ team leader remarked. “Sometimes our husbands get jealous of the time we spend volunteering or we forget to clean the house or do a chore. But we explain the value of what we do and in the end, they understand and support us.”
Reaching the children is also challenging. The local streets can be confusing and children’s homes difficult to locate. “The homes can be situated far apart, and since commuting costs a lot, often we choose to deliver or collect the letters by foot. It is tiring, but fulfilling,” Mary Rose shares.
As we boarded our van back to the office, I reflect how lucky we are to have partners like these who bring to life the spirit of bayanihan, forgotten by many. They are a valuable ingredient in helping us achieve success in improving the lives of the children.
Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to find out more.