Growing up not having as much privilege as most people I know, I get to understand the concept of lack better. At the same time, it also nurtured a heart that wanted to serve humanity. Perhaps, that’s what drew me to studying nursing (aside from the existence of scholarships and all). A profession that I never really got a chance of really practicing. Before you start grabbing tissues or being sad for me, you need to know that I don’t really regret it. I just ended up changing my priorities and interests over time. May your hearts stay still. Please continue reading ^_^
Despite the aforementioned, my circumstance didn’t stop me from getting as much opportunity to serve people in any way that I can. I guess that’s what pushed me to volunteering or contributing for different causes whenever opportunity (and budget) permits. Hahaha.
One memorable volunteer work experience occurred last Nov 2013. It was after the onslaught of super typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan. While I was busy wondering if my siblings were still alive, I attempted to steer my mind away from worrying by taking action. I started my online search for volunteer sites to visit. From one volunteer work to another, I eventually found myself serving in Villamor Airbase. That’s where I met this young and vibrant girl Rachel and her family.
Honestly, when I met her family, I was quite amazed how calm and collected they were considering what they’ve just gone through. With the way they smile at each other, you wouldn’t believe they experienced a close encounter with death as well as days of unimaginable famine. Their gratitude on the aid and assistance they received from us was well expressed. At first glance, they seemed okay. But when I started talking to them, that’s when I found my heart being torn down little by little.
According to Rachel’s mom, they were thankful that none of their family members died. Unfortunately, their possessions perished. Her mom admitted that they barely have anything to begin with. Now, losing all of it made them wonder what would become of them after being brought out of Tacloban City.
When I turned my attention to Rachel, her mom proudly told me that she is one diligent child. Her thirst for knowledge is so great that she feels thrilled whenever their family gets to scavenge old books being thrown out from a nearby school. Then, that’s when I saw her sulk stating that she would have to start all over again. I tried to reassure her by telling her that the schools that they will temporarily be enrolled to will have lots of books to offer. And also, she can look forward to having their schools being rebuilt in the future. Thinking back, I kinda regret and want to kick myself for saying the last statement. I barely managed my emotions on what ensued.
Rachel vehemently turned down the offer of going back to Tacloban. When I pressed on for answers (mentally kicks self), she told me that there’s no point in doing so. As expected, I decided to wait for more answers.
Here’s how our conversation went (tried to recall the verbatim convo):
Rachel: Ate Khay, ayoko na bumalik sa eskwelahan namin.
Me: Hah? Bakit? Ayaw mo na ba mag-aral ulit sa school mo kapag napaayos na siya ulit?
Rachel: Hindi naman po. Gusto ko pa naman sana kaso wala na ako babalikan
*gives her a questioning look*
Rachel: Wala na po ako babalikan. Patay na po kasi mga classmates ko….
Rachel: Ate Khay, I don’t want to go back to school anymore.
Me: Huh? Why? Don’t you want to go back to your school once it gets rebuilt?
Rachel: It’s not that. I still want to. It’s just that, there’s nothing to go back to.
*gives her a questioning look*
Rachel: There’s no one to go back to. My classmates are already dead….)
I felt my heart just died there and then.
If there were lessons that I learned from such encounter, these would be:
- Your ability to help should not always be limited to your resources. We have God given abilities and time that we can always share to the world.
- No help is too small. You may not think of as much. But for the recipient of your aid, it might actually mean the world to them.
- Extreme situations can bring the best and worst out of people. It’s up to you which side you’ll be on.
- You should not take everything at face value. It helps to inspect and understand it further at times. You’ll never know what you might learn from it.
- Appreciate what you have. As you complain about your mundane first world problems, others are wishing to have a miniscule portion of what you have within your reach.
- Kindness will take you places. Be kind to people if you can. It makes living in this corrupted world more tolerable.
- Your time matters. Make it count
I can go all day saying good things about why I love doing volunteer work. For now, I’ll end this article with the ones I initially thought of.