During my New Joiner Orientation at ACN, I was really interested in their "corporate citizenship" program which allows employees to serve in community out reach activities. Two weeks ago, I finally signed up to be a volunteer for "Skills to Succeed: Values Formation Workshop." Yes, for several reasons - workload, schedule, workshop's venue - it took me 6 months to finally be on board!
Two days before the event, I attended an online orientation where I virtually met my co volunteers and our supervisor. We discussed the "Tawid Pampamilya" program of DSWD, PSBA
a legit, non Napoles NGO and ACN. It aims to equip the out of school youth by providing them with necessary training and skills to find a job. The first phase is "Skills to Succeed: Values formation" for 300 out of school youth, between 17-30 years old. They will be filtered to top 200 and undergo training for resume writing, job interview best practices and even proper grooming. Finally, sadly they will be cut to 100 and will proceed to TESDA training for the specific skills before they can finally apply for a proper job.
This morning, I was excited to be a part of something that can have a positive impact in someone's life and at the same time nervous because I don't know anyone, even my co volunteers. I arrived 10 minutes before our call time, 20 minutes passed and I'm still alone at our meeting place. I sighed and was a little disappointed that maybe the team already left. I texted the assigned driver if he is already with the team, fortunately he's still in the parking lot with 1 volunteer. He drove the van in front of our meeting place and that's when 5 other volunteers popped and introduced themselves =))
When we arrived at the venue I was expecting to see the 57 students, who initially signed up, eagerly waiting for us but the baranggay's basketball court was empty. It turned out that they we're just fetched from a nearby baranggay but were already on the way. Our group took the free time to get to know each other then our supervisor divided our group of 7 volunteers into 2. We've gone over the program flow and distributed the activities among ourselves.
|the Venue, Baranggay's Basketball Court|
I'm lucky to be included in a group with 1 veteran volunteer and 2 other newbies. Our supervisor joined the team of 3 newbie volunteers, who were also project teammates. Anyway, the students arrived and I was a bit sad that only 14 out of 57 showed up. Most of them dont know the real purpose of the activity. We grouped them into 2 as well. The 7 students assigned on my team introduced themselves, they were all below 20 yrs old, high school graduates and notably 1 boy & 1 girl already has 1 child. When asked on what's their expectation about the program, one boy answered that he wants to go to college and another thought that we'll be hiring them. To manage their expectations, we said that our goal for that morning is to share our experience on the workplace. One replied that she's happy to meet people who has stable jobs and she would like to know how they achieved it.
After the introductions, the first activity was to answer the question
'If you were given 1000 pesos, how would you spend it?'
I can think of many ways to spend that money. I can use it to either chop off my credit card debt, buy a new top, have Starbucks frappe for 1 week or pay half of my monthly phone bill. But for the group that I've met earlier today, 1000 pesos can be used to buy their grocery for 2 weeks, to print resumes to be given out to different companies, it can serve as a starting capital for lugawan/rice porridge business or can buy a week's supply for an 18year-old-single-mother's baby.
|1st and definitely won't be my last volunteer activity|
Based on our program flow guide, we presented to them how their decision on how to spend 1000 pesos showed what they "value" or prioritize. We're happy that most answers are positive and geared towards family needs rather than personal pleasures. My veteran volunteer teammate said that in a previous workshop, there were honest but shocking answers
splurging on shopping or vices.
The "what is your 3 year plan" activity is where I realized that I'm too emotional to be an effective social worker. I had to fight back my tears when each of them discussed their simple goals and how they plan to achieve it. For me, it may sound simple but for them, it can be a suntok sa buwan dream. Each student wanted to pass the Pantawid Pamilya program and have a job, three years from now. One even envisions himself as a businessman by that time. =)
Coincidentally, I had a conversation with my mother yesterday, about her having a 5/6 loan so that she can send me and 3 siblings to a good school. She recalled how her palengke colleagues scoffed her on why she worked double time to send us to exclusive schools. Mommy said, she's happy it payed off because we all have decent jobs and are self sufficient
while her kumare's anaks cannot find a job or got married and stayed on the ancestral home.
During my closing remarks, I shared to them how I live in a far place and because traffic is part of our lives, I always wake up early and commute for a minimum of 2 hrs per day. Finding a job is just a first step, it takes a lot of hard work and determination to keep it. I told them that I'm a planner. I also have a 3-5 year plan which I divided into yearly, monthly, weekly and daily goals. It may sound absurd but these goals help me decide in small things that can affect my bigger goals. For example, why should I buy expensive iced coffee when I can get it for free on the office pantry. I can then use this savings for my travel fund. It's always a want versus need battle when I want to spend on anything. Its tedious but will be rewarding in the future, the delayed gratification mantra.
Today was a humbling experience, not because I realized that I have more but because they have little but they don't lose hope.