(a Gawad Kalinga experience)
A few weeks ago, a friend of ours, who also goes to the same church as I have, has invited our single and youth members to give community service to children from a small barangay in the south of Manila. We were truly interested to join because this girl who invited us was a member of the Gawad Kalinga group who we all know is much known for the wonderful causes that they champion and services that they render to struggling communities. What I personally know about them is that they build homes for numerous families and communities in the country.
As a student back in high school, (which was NOT a long time ago) we used to have the subject: CAT or the high school sort-of military training. As part of the subject, we were also invited in by the Gawad Kalinga to help build homes for a small, nearby community that they are sponsoring. We brought small shovels. The boys were in charge of the heavy load of work, like carrying bricks, shoveling cement, etc. While some of us girls were in charge of cleaning up. We had an easier job . And although it was really dusty there and dirty because of the cement that gets stuck in your airways, it was quite fulfilling to know that there is a family that would consider the walls we were building as their own home.
I was quite excited because I thought that we would build homes again. However, we were told that the community that we will be visiting already had homes. We could help paint but that would cause us to shell out a huge amount of money to donate paint. We thought that that was a good idea already but we also learned from them that of course, we can only donate so much that would cause us to give a few buckets of paint. The few buckets could help us paint 1 to 2 homes. The organizer advised that it might cause the other people from the other homes to feel envious as to why they were not chosen for the service, why other homes would be painted and their homes would not. We felt sad about that, but we knew that this truly could happen. Plus, I'm not sure but I think we were also told that the G.K. has a new policy wherein the family members of the new homes should be the ones most responsible for the building of their house. A labor of love. This is a good idea, don't you think? The GK organizers thought we should start a teaching/educational community service community. So we started asking how we should plan the activity. We were advised by our leaders to organize one wherein the youth are the ones implementing the service and the leaders would be there only for support. This is so that the youth would learn at a young age to not just be participants in a service, but grow up to become leaders.
A few weeks before I was hesitant because we were not sure what the real program was. We were just told that we were to teach about hygiene to a bunch of children. We all thought that hygiene is 'cliche' as a topic to demonstrate about. But we all know that we should just stop murmuring and just start supporting the organizer.
When we visited the community, we met our friend's Gawad Kalinga group. I was impressed how they were there so early as a group and were very eager to assist us though we all know they wouldn't get any compensation out of their efforts. We also learned that they were still very young, still teenagers, but spoke with great enthusiasm and were really willing to be helpful. They said they first met and joined the group when they helped out in last year's biggest tragedy, the Ondoy calamity. Since then they have become Gawad Kalinga members organizing services in our city.
We, the youth and singles, were grouped into 4 and each group was given children to bond with, play with and teach certain topics about hygiene. It was obvious that these children were from a less fortunate community. But they had smiles on their faces and once again I'm impressed that the Gawad Kalinga organizers have gathered these kids on a Saturday morning to be participants in the activity. I'm glad that all the children found us all fun to be with since they were all laughing, playing the games we thought about just that moment and were listening to our lesson. I mean, as a child, it's really not easy to listen to serious lessons in general. Luckily these were very good children. We were also told to give out cheers to show gratitude to the Gawad Kalinga sponsors in the area who were some of the country's big companies. It was such a fun moment and I will always be thankful to have met those children. I sure hope they retained something out of what they have learned about the hygiene topics we taught about.
I was also thankful that we have given help to those kinds in our own little way. We didn't have to shell out so much money but we gave a big amount of effort (especially those Gawad Kalinga people) and our hearts into that service.We were also proud of the youth because they too participated in the lessons, such young wonderful teachers! I'm proud of their presence there that day and feel good that our future leaders could come from these young group of people.
I hope we can all think of little ways to give back to our community. Remember, as what we have learned that day, we don't have to be rich to give, we just need to have the willingness to serve others.
Have a good day everyone!