Friday, August 22, 2008

Joy and Fulfillment through Volunteering

Posted on behalf of Sarah Jane Velasco, Communications Coordinator in Tabaco, Philippines.

Ermilinda Bigol has been a volunteer mother for almost five years now. She is also a widow single-handedly raising five children.

Considering that her hands are already full with family responsibilities, how Ate Emmy (Sister Emmy), as she is fondly called in the community, manages to devote time to volunteer in the sponsorship program is indeed a wonder. But for her, it’s just a matter of time management and setting priorities: “Family comes first and volunteering follows closely.”

Since her husband died in a vehicular accident years ago, she had to learn to accept the fact that she must raise five children on her own. She knew it wouldn’t be easy, but she had to step up to it. The family gets by with the monthly pension she receives after the death of her husband. But for a family of seven, including Ate Emmy’s mother, a Php 3000 monthly budget is not enough, especially if all of her five children are in school. Because of this, she decided to go into rope-making. If done alone, it would take some time before a person could weave one bundle of rope. That is why the whole family shares this task, taking turns weaving bundle after bundle.

At 4:30 in the morning, Ate Emmy gets up to prepare breakfast for the family and begins weaving rope. By 5, two of her children are already up to help. After three hours, they already have 70 bundles of rope. Also by this time, the kids are all set to go to school. After going through her domestic routine, Ate Emmy transforms from being the super mom to being a tireless volunteer.

In her five years of serving as a CI volunteer, she’s already gone through some ups and downs. According to her, handling an area with almost a thousand sponsored children is not an easy feat. She has to deal with the parents, regular requirements, CI staff and fellow volunteers. “I think the key is proper communication and leading by example. I try to be honest with them, give them the facts, and tell them what we have to do. They know I’m not doing it for myself, so we help each other out,” she added.

Despite her seemingly tireless efforts, Ate Emmy admits that being a mother and a volunteer can be exhausting at times but “the satisfaction I get makes the hard work worthwhile.” This plus her acknowledgement of the help the sponsorship program extends to her two children is what keeps her going. “As a widow, having two of my children sponsored is really a blessing. The assistance we get is already a big help.”

“As a mother, seeing my children grow up to be good individuals is more than enough reward; as a volunteer, knowing that I’m able to help even in a small way and getting personal affirmations tells me that I’m doing the job right, and that keeps me motivated,” said Ate Emmy.


Halleh said...

Why are only two of her children sponsored? Is there anyway we can get information about her other children so they can find sponsors as well?

Sarah said...

Hi Halleh,
Two of her children are age 19 and 21, unfortunately too old for sponsorship. She does have a 14 year old son, Lawrence, who is not currently enrolled in the program. We are checking on his eligibility right now, and we'll get back to you.
Thanks for your interest!

Sarah said...

Good news! We recently got confirmation that Lawrence, Emmy's 14 year old son, has been enrolled in the program. He is now waiting for a generous sponsor to pick him up.