AROUND 48 local residents of Tacloban City joined Tzu Chi Foundation’s home visitation activities in Palo municipality and Ormoc City from August 29 to September 2. These individuals are former victims of typhoon Yolanda who are now devoting their time to volunteering for the Buddhist group.
Since the visitations began on August 29, 2,287 families in Ormoc City and Palo municipality have been visited by the volunteers. The home visitations were conducted to see the living condition of the would-be beneficiaries of Tzu Chi’s temporary housing project in the said areas.
Couple Leonardo and Fe Abobo are among the local volunteers who joined the activity. It was the first time for these residents of Barangay 6 in Tacloban City to leave their four children and a grandchild behind for three days to do volunteer work. “When we come home, we will share the many lessons we gained from this activity to our children,” says Leonardo, 48. His wife has been joining various Tzu Chi activities and the stories she had shared him encouraged him to join as well.
“My heart rejoices from doing this. It feels so much better to be the one giving help, instead of being the one who asks. Though we cannot help financially, we come here to contribute our time for Tzu Chi’s work,” he adds.
His wife, Fe, shared that Tzu Chi Foundation had taught her to value her relationships with her neighbors.
“Before, I thought that love is limited to your children and family, but Tzu Chi Foundation has taught me to love my neighbors too. We came to a point when we almost lose all hopes because of the tragedy we have been through; but I learned to carry on and help others,” muses the mother.
The Abobos were beneficiaries of Tzu Chi Foundation’s cash-for-work program and cash aid distributions. The family used the cash assistance they have received from the Buddhist group to build a house and buy their needs.
Manolo De Castro and her 16-year-old daughter, Myra Joyce also joined in the activity. According to Myra Joyce, being able to witness the living condition of her fellow-men opened her eyes to the reality of their suffering.
“We thought that we were the worst off after the typhoon but talking to these families made me realized they suffered worse than us,” Myra Joyce says.
An out-of-school youth, Myra Joyce said volunteering is an opportunity to use her time productively while for Manolo, volunteering is a way of paying back the kindness shown by Tzu Chi Foundation to his community.
“While we still don’t know them, Tzu Chi Foundation helped us. Now that we have the opportunity to help others, we should do our part,” the 51-year-old father tearfully says.
Manolo and his wife take turns in doing volunteer works for Tzu Chi Foundation since they also have to look after their youngest child. In the three days Manolo and his daughter spent conducting home visitations in Ormoc City, his wife was left to run their small rice cakes business.
Tzu Chi Philippines Chief Executive Officer Alfredo Li expressed how proud he is of the shift in perspective among the typhoon survivors.
“It is a wonderful thing to see the former victims of typhoon Yolanda [Haiyan] are the ones helping the typhoon victims in Palo and Ormoc this time. From being the ones being helped, now they are the ones extending aid; and they are very happy for this chance,” says Li.
Currently, 8,000 locals from Tacloban City are undergoing seminars to become official volunteers of Tzu Chi Foundation.