A Volunteering Tale

Once upon a time, there was a young girl who had this desire for volunteering. But this desire didn’t just pop out of the blue that poof! she wants to go do volunteering. That desire was slowly cultivated as our heroine goes through life’s adventures.
It all started when she was sixteen, it was a very dark and trying time for her and her family that she had to leave her Father’s house in order to be safe from the perils that endanger her. Our girl was really lucky to have a spinster aunt who adopted her during her last year in high school. This aunt of her served as her inspiration to do good things for other people because she was a very helpful person despite her illness, which is breast cancer. Then time came that our young girl has to move on to another phase of her life, college. She has to leave her aunt’s abode and set off to another journey in a far away land, Miagao, Iloilo.
She studied in the University of the Philippines Visayas and while studying did extra curricular activities and helped in various organizations. She became very active in the University. But life wasn’t that kind to her. Her family experienced some problems with finances urging her to stop with her academics to find a job.It wasn’t long before our girl was hired on a Phone English Tutorial job. She met various people in that office and one of them was her volunteering godmother who brought her in her every adventure doing medical mission all over the land of Panay. She then was introduced to Iloilo Coalition of NGOs and POs where she worked as a volunteer. Here she met a noble man who encouraged her to join Global Xchange.
After some considerations, our young volunteer decided to apply for that program.The Global Xchange Program chooses only nine (9) Filipino youth volunteers that they will pair with nine (9) British youth volunteers. Last July 2008, out of more than fifty (50) applicants from all over the Philippines, our girl was selected as part of the eighteen (18) who would participate in the Assessment Day that would be held in Manila. The eighteen (18) youth volunteer applicants were chosen carefully and each came from various regions in the Philippines. During the Assessment Day, the applicants have to go through series of interviews and tests. A week later via phone call, our young volunteer was very happy to know that she was chosen as one of the nine (9) youth volunteers who would join Team 76.
In a land called Oxford, our young girl joined seventeen other young volunteers, nine from all over the UK and eight other from the Philippines. They were organized into cross cultural counterpart pairs, team 76 was born and their GX Journey officially begins. The next step on their journey was to meet their host families.Aside from having to meet her host family, our young volunteer has to face also the serious part of her GX Journey, work in her volunteer placement. She and another British work counterpart spent four days in a week of their three months in the UK working for Brandon Trust. The pair worked on the Life stories project for people with learning disabilities in the trust. With this they have explored the nursing homes of the trust and tried to interview people with different range of learning disabilities.
While working on that, our volunteer has to work on another simultaneous project for the trust which is to capture on film what the Training units consisting of the farm, pottery, garden and wood work center are about. They filmed for days and days, rain or shine, warm or freezing temperature.The fifth day of the week is spent with their teammates trying to learn new things by engaging in active learning with topics that range from religion, to permaculture, asylum seekers in the UK, fair-trade, and other global issues and issues about peace and development. Their other free time are either spent on Community Action Days, helping people in their host community, and or exploring more about the British culture and their counterparts through Socials activities.
After three months in the UK, the team flew to Davao City to continue their volunteer work, this time with new host families and work placement. Our little girl had the opportunity to explore Mt. Sicao and learn about the culture of the Bagobo-Jangan tribe. She was able to work for an organization making handmade paper out of durian husks and other indigenous materials.But all too soon, the curtain fell on our young volunteer’s GX Story and it was time for their team to go after six months of volunteer work, three months in the UK and three in Davao City. Where is our young volunteer now? She is no other than the writer of this story, me.
*presented during the National Volunteers Summit in Guimaras, Philippines last April 1, 2009.


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