• CHRISTMAS REFLECTION

    The gift of giving

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    In the rush and glitter of the holiday season, let’s not forget to slow down and remember the things that are really important in life, and what it means to be really happy.

    From every corner of the country, there are communities whose members are struggling to rebuild after being hit by a natural disaster. So many people are fighting to overcome various infirmities, and transcend whatever hardships they are currently confronted with.

    As I have traveled the other parts of the world, I have seen the worst and the best of humanity, and the one thing that never fails to amaze me is our ability as Filipinos to be compassionate and resilient.

    Every year, the Philippines is hit by multiple natural disasters, our society is saddled with so much poverty and lack of opportunity that impede progress and upward mobility, but we somehow manage to rise above it all.

    This is, in large part, due to the wonderful web of relationships that we weave and the ties that bind us to each other. The glue that holds everything together is compassion, and the stuff that allows us to bounce back from the worst that life has to offer is resilience.

    At the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), we see this everyday, and we make it a point to be instrumental in the betterment of every community we have a presence in.

    Through our partners, whether they be individuals or organizations, the work of alleviating human suffering is accomplished one individual at a time, in ever increasing ripples all throughout the community.

    That is how the PRC makes a difference. Through the PRC, anyone with a philanthropic bent, or desire to help others, can do so. The Red Cross is not just a beacon of hope, but a conduit of compassion for suffering humanity.

    Take, for instance, the communities that were hit by typhoon Yolanda in 2013. Last month, we marked the second year of typhoon Yolanda’s cruel passing.

    In its wake, typhoon Yolanda left a path of death and destruction the likes of which none of us has ever seen. The Philippine Red Cross was stretched to its limits.

    But we did not lose heart. We did not lose hope. Because we were inspired by everyone who trusted the Red Cross to do what had to be done so that these people could rebuild their lives again.

    The world showed up at our doorstep, and everyone pitched in to help during the darkest days of our lives.

    As the country’s premier humanitarian organization, the Philippine Red Cross led the way in the areas of providing shelter, livelihood, health services, water sanitation and hygiene, and ensuring that the disrupted education of the youth is restored to normalcy in all of those communities hit by typhoon Yolanda.

    Together with our partners in the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, we have built over 66 thousand homes, provided livelihood opportunities to over 90 thousand families, gave conditional cash grants to over 59 thousand families, enrolled over 1 thousand people in skills training courses, and thousands more were trained in relation to our livelihood programs.

    In the worst hit areas, the devastation was such that not only did these people lose their homes and their loved ones, but also the means of income for the surviving members of the family.

    We worked hard so that they could move beyond their grief and despair. In the end, we were able to surprise ourselves by exceeding even our own expectations. And that is the gift that keeps on giving.

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