Since 1988, Kaisa Para Sa Kaunlaran has been giving medicine to indigent patients of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) through the Alay Medisina project.
Through the tears, the project has witnessed the participation of many volunteers.
Currently, Alay Medisina is run by three regular volunteers. It provides medicine to patients every second to fourth Tuesdays of the month. Kaisa works with the office of the Medical Social Service, which is responsible for screening patients.
Every December, Kaisa participates in a gift-giving event that benefits over a thousand hospital patients, who receive gift packages from regular PGH donors and special donors participating as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) or other personal gift-giving schemes.
This year was particularly special for 10 Alay Medisina volunteers from Kaisa who participated in the event. As I have been responsible for managing the logistics of gift giving for a few years, I decided to put someone else in charge and stay in the background as much as possible.
In this case, I assigned my niece, Cathleen Mae Co, to do the bulk of the work. Perhaps, new faces can add some vigor to the activity. I always hope for better things and good results in all our work as Kaisa volunteers (see sidebar story for Co’s personal reflection).
It is good to sometimes feel a fresh breath of energy to advance a project. Sometimes, when you have been doing something for so long – having volunteered since 1995 – things tend to become routine and automatic.
It can seem easy even if you are sacrificing time and other aspects of life to do what needs to be done. Since you are already used to the issues and problems that might arise, you make decisions quickly and you do not think about it much. It can also lead to misunderstandings and cause tensions unintentionally. But that is how it is when you work with a group of people. We all have good intentions, just different ideas on how to get things done. Sometimes it is ideal to work alone or with other groups outside Kaisa, where you can stay anonymous or be known as just yourself. But it will not diminish the spirit of giving that we must cultivate within ourselves and use to inspire others.
The line of people receiving the goods we gave away on Dec. 12 happily acknowledged us while we handed them out. We hope that the donors who have continuously given money to support Alay Medisina can also feel the joy and appreciation of our beneficiaries.
We give special mention to our regular and biggest donor, the whole Chua family, led by the patriarch, the late Chua Chun Tiat and his wife, Yao Siu Eng. Without them, there will be a missing link in the cycle.
We at Kaisa are the workers, like ants who do whatever is necessary to make things happen. But we need all the links to make everything work. Beneficiaries are part of the link, they must be deserving people who should benefit from the actions and generosity of Kaisa and our donors.
On a personal note, I chose to be a donor for projects in Benquet and Oriental Mindoro. Being acknowledged on a personal basis, as opposed to being part of Kaisa for a long time, gave me a different sense of accomplishment. Although I love working for Kaisa, sometimes I feel the need to go out on my own and claim my own sense of identity.
It was a simple donation of 3,200 mushroom fruit bags to two areas in Benguet, which benefited many people in those two communities who were able to harvest the mushrooms for their personal consumption and for profit.
On Dec. 30, when I was told that a Mangyan community, specifically, a Tadyawan tribe living in Sitio Paraiso, Barangay Concepcion, Victoria, Oriental Mindoro, was in need of PE pipes and fittings, my response was to supply them with the materials, which provided a water supply nearer to their community.
Local people did not have to get water from the mountain, saving effort and time so they can do other productive things.
Gift giving and volunteerism are good advocacies. Even if you do not have much free time or resources, nothing is impossible if you decide to make it your goal to give and share what you can.
Kaisa has always been a bridge for starting something new to help communities, to have the courage to be aware of our capacities and make things happen, continue channeling resources for projects that benefit individuals and communities and, most importantly, to recruit new volunteers to embark on greater challenges.
We hope to always be a bridge of goodness, kindness and generosity towards our fellow Filipinos.