German expatriate Dieter Brueckner has lived in the Philippines for over three decades, majority of which he has spent as a marketing professional in different private corporations.
Now a proud retiree, Brueckner has channeled his energy and time to social work with hopes of uplifting communities and improving lives of less fortunate Filipinos. He shared all this and more in an exclusive interview with The Manila Times.
A member of the Rotary Club of Makati North, District 3830 since 1984, Brueckner is highly involved in the group’s outreach programs. He exclaimed, “I always put my foot forward and say, ‘I volunteer!’”
One of his club’s projects that he has actively supported for years now is a feeding program at F. Benitez Elementary School in Makati City. Rotary Makati North is able to provide some 150 grade school students with breakfast at the beginning of every school day.
“Our data shows that those 150 children who are given daily breakfast are excelling in their studies. They become outstanding students with just a simple breakfast that costs only P20 to P30 a meal, [but]an amount that their parents sometimes find hard to afford for them,” he sadly shared.
Besides contributing to the funding of the feeding program, Brueckner also volunteers every so often to serve the children himself.
Meanwhile, in partnership with the Red Cross and the Philippine National Police, his Rotary club has further conducted seminars to teach schoolchildren disaster preparedness and risk reduction, as well as this valuable lesson: “Following the seminars, we asked ourselves, what can these students do to contribute [something themselves]and not just go home afterward? So we talked to the schoolchildren and asked them for donations of what ever amount—25 centavos to P1. Of the hundreds of attendees, we collected P1,800 last month. This month we collected P1,200.”
These very special donations are then used as seed money for the projects of Rotaract, Rotary’s club for adults aged 18 to 30, and Interact for young people aged 12 to 18.
Noting that this is how Rotary makes its programs self-sustainable, Brueckner elaborated, “We have six avenues of service like water and sanitation, education, and conflict resolution, among others. But whatever project we do for the community, we make sure it is be self-sustainable.”
In this way, the expat made a point to differentiate their service as “community work and not charity.”
“If you give money to a beggar, you teach him to be a beggar all his life,” Brueckner emphasized. “The danger of this is that we create a society which believes that this way of living is correct, and in effect, it drives away productivity, ingenuity and initiative especially among the young.”
And as he mentioned the youth, Brueckner went on to call on young professionals and entrepreneurs to discover the network of Rotary Clubs.
“We need to rejuvenate the organization. We need young professionals, young entrepreneurs because they have ideas, they are pro-active, and they want to do something more,” he enthused. “They can look at Rotary as an avenue they can engage in, and we will be very happy to entertainment them.
In parting, Brueckner also encouraged his fellow expatriates in the Philippines to tread the same path he has taken.
“Reach out to the communities around you because it gives value to one’s heart and soul. Provide food and make many people happy. There are many ways to help even with small things like that,” he ended.