International Volunteer Day

2020 Theme: Together We Can Through Volunteering 

On this day across the world, we pay tribute to the volunteers who play a crucial role in being at the forefront of community, societal and medical responses. According to the UN, there are also online volunteers worldwide who served virtually in support to civil society organizations working on peace and development. 

My experience as a volunteer started last year, 2019, when I was in Aklan – friends of mine invited me to come along with them when they were doing a project called Reading Workshop & Mobile Library in some four primary schools at the time. I remember being engrossed to the experience when we read stories to the kids, and guiding them when they did their activities afterwards. Even though it was the first time the kids saw me- they loved me! Though half of the time I couldn’t understand the dialect, the smiles on their faces said so much about why we were doing something like this in the first place. 

An experience like this, and knowing how much this will impact the kids as they grow older, I immediately knew that this line of work was something I would want to partake in. When an opportunity arose to become an official volunteer for the GFF HELPS, I immediately told my intent, and part of that was the decision to live alone far away from the city. In January 2020, I was officially a volunteer for the GFF HELPS. 

There are many projects that I was lucky to have been involved in; projects that I believe are necessary for the development of the communities that we help. These include computer skills and sewing project for the Women’s Empowerment Program, reading and online storytelling programs for the children, webinars for different age groups, vegetable garden, and lastly, solar project for far towns that have no electricity. 

With the help of the Philippines team and our supervisor, we have painstakingly gone through the process of planning and implementation. Some projects that we’ve proposed have been postponed; and part of being in this work deals with that. The risk and challenges in doing our work are especially hard during this pandemic, but thanks to the support of the GFF HELPS International teams, we are able to communicate and hold weekly meetings virtually. 

This volunteering experience had not just only let me help ensure a lasting impact to our beneficiaries, but also to my growth as an individual – in my community, country, and the world. I believe I will always carry these priceless experiences with me as I go on my journey, and still be involved in the GFF HELPS projects that we have in the Philippines. My goal is to inspire others to see the joy and abundance that volunteering brings, in others, and in many aspects of our lives. 

Thank you Sir Owen for giving us this once in a lifetime opportunity.

by Ana Herco, GFF HELPS Philippines Local Volunteer

Willyn CarrascalInternational Volunteer Day