Here is an inspiring story from the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. tells that you could be a hero by just giving a little of your time, and that time you give someone today is the treasure they will forever be grateful for...
Helping fellow youth
Reviewing her school lessons and doing assignments were the usual routine of Joni Joy Dumasig, 19, the moment she arrives at home from school. But now, this business major student dedicates some of her time to community work.
Dumasig is one of the young scholars of Young Minds Academy (YMA) Season 5 who have given up some of their time for hobbies and hanging out with friends to do more rewarding work.
These scholars under the youth leadership and citizenship development program of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) committed to carry out community-based projects to address poverty and social welfare, the theme of YMA Season 5. By teams, they were assigned to four local government units and partnered with six civil society groups, which acted as their project partners and guided them in project development and implementation.
Through experiential and situation-based learning approaches adopted by RAFI for the program, scholars were exposed to real issues and concerns in the community.
“We had a three-day immersion in Kobe Zone 3 Barangay Canduman, Mandaue City, which was the start of our challenge. It was a test of how far we will go and how independent we are. We tried our best not to give up and finish what we have started,” Dumasig shared.
The outspoken Dumasig is the team anchor of the five-member Ahon sa Hirap Incorporated (ASHI) group assigned in Kobe Zone 3, a relocation site for displaced informal settlers from the North Reclamation and Cebu City port areas as well as fire victims of Mandaue City.
|Aside from utilizing the economic potential of Kobe youth, Ahon sa Hirap Incorporated (ASHI) aims for improving character and values through conducting teambuildings and leadership trainings.|
“Based on the data acquired through our focus group discussions, surveys, and transect mapping, we came up with a youth-oriented livelihood program we called NeGosYOUTH-KOBE New Goods from the Youth,” she said.
She explained that her group observed that a number of out-of-school youth in the area were either just hanging out with their friends until the day ends while some are at home sleeping or watching TV.
“Our project is looking into the social and economic aspect of each Kobe youth. It focuses on character-building and values formation, leadership and teambuilding session, and organization management workshop, which are essentials for the fundamental and holistic growth of young people,” she said.
The NeGosYOUTH-KOBE re-establishes the youth organization and provides an avenue for the youth to have an additional income that would help themselves and their families. T-shirt printing and recycled notebooks are the products that they saw as economical and easy to do.
“The moment we stepped in the community, there was resistance from the youth. We thought that it would be easy for us to convince them knowing we come from the same age group. But this was not the case. At first, it seemed that our initiatives didn’t go with the actual plans,” she recalled.
In cooperation with RAFI’s Integrated Development unit and Barangay Canduman and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) officials, they slowly introduced the project to some 40 youth in the barangay last year. At the time, there were only ten active youth who demonstrated dedication for the project.
The goal of the project was the heart of team. Rain or shine, she said, the members continued to conduct their meetings during Saturdays. As full-time students, it was also a challenge to balance their time, but their commitment was unwavering.
“I see this as another chapter of my life. Sometimes time became our worst enemy. There were days that even after school hours, we met to draft our plans. We have given extra effort for this project to be realized. It would be a waste of investment if we will give up,” she asserted.
The commitment of the Kobe youth on the project was the very challenge they faced, she said. During their first few meetings, the number of attendees was depreciating. Some of the youth have excuses for not joining—school, work, and babysitting, among others.
“We need to personally go to their houses and convince them. We had to spend time with each of them just to persuade them and their parents. That was the only way for us to gather them and let them understand our goals,” she pressed.
Doing a Getting to Know You (GTKY) gathered all the youth. The team realized noticed that some of the youth viewed their project as a serious venture. This realization led them to craft a venue for the youth to enjoy while earning the trust of the team.
“The GTKY was done through a sportsfest called “Uy! Duwa Ta Na!” that gathered almost all of the Kobe youth. We had basketball games that attracted the participation of those who have not shown their interest in the project. The activity was also the time wherein we formally introduced the Kobe youth organization,” she said.
Holding on to their promise of commitment to their project, they banked on the active youth-members of the organization to be trained in livelihood programs. These youth were those who actively joined their regular meetings and cooperated in planning sessions.
For Nicca Jean Pialago, a Kobe youth, the community project was not just a solution for livelihood needs but also an opportunity for the youth to be heard. This eighteen-year old out-of-school youth was chosen as the secretary of the organization.
“I admit that I once questioned the purpose of the group. After attending the series of meetings, I realized that they mean well—they were doing it not for themselves but for Kobe youth. They made us proud of our skills,” she said, pointing out that those uninterested have not yet appreciated the essence of youth empowerment.
Showing the shirts that she helped in printing, she proudly said that she only learned the method during the meetings. The production of notebooks using scrap papers is also marketable, she added.
“As one of the older girls of the group, I always remind the rest of the youth the goal of the project. We are blessed enough that we were chosen as beneficiaries of the project. This only means that the proponents saw something in us that could be developed,” she shared.
The experience of Jacqueline Martha Malazarte, a team member, also benefited her. From a shy girl, she now has the confidence to connect with other people.
“I learned to deal with people of different personalities. The get-to-know activity is a stepping stone; we were able to build friendship,” she said, adding that YMA scholars had also undergone learning sessions on character and leadership-building and research and participatory project development, among others, before their immersion.
She said that the lessons she learned from their experience are worth keeping and remembering, especially those acquired during their meetings. Together with the other members, they did “pakulo” just to get the attention of the youth.
“When I remember our experience during our immersion and the implementation itself, it does not bring negative memories. Instead, I recall on the good days when we slowly changed the attitude of the youth in the area,” she said.
“We want the Kobe youth to feel that sense of ownership on this project. We see a great amount of unused skill and talent in them. We hope that as we slowly turn-over this project to them, the project will continue and be sustained,” she added.
Among the project partners are the Philippine Business for Social Progress, Gawad Kalinga, Fellowship for Organizing Endeavors Inc., Lihok Pilipina Foundation Inc., Mag-uugmad Foundation Inc., Cebu City, Kadasig Parents Association Inc., and the municipalities of Consolacion, Liloan, and Cordova.
With the recently concluded sixth run of YMA, YMA Season 7 will be formally launched on Jan. 26, accepting applications for a new batch of scholars. (by Chrisley Ann Hinayas/Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc.)
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