Following the COVID-19 pandemic that disrupted countless lives and communities, a gleam of hope in the form of community volunteers has emerged to make a change.

Started as a volunteer teacher in 2020 at the height of the pandemic, Margolane Garrote, 25 is still filled with compassion to empower and assist her community, Barangay Bacolod in Irosin, Sorsogon as a volunteer under the Department of Social Welfare and Development Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS).

From a volunteer teacher, Margolane was appointed as Barangay Secretary. In 2022, with her commitment to expand her abilities in helping the community, she joined as a bookkeeper under the Barangay Development Council – Technical Working Group for KALAHI-CIDSS National Community-Driven Development Additional Financing (NCDDP AF) modality.

Currently, she serves as a member of the Project Preparation Team (PPT) under the Community Nutrition Sub-Project Management Committee (CNSPMC) for the KALAHI-CIDSS Philippine Multisectoral Nutrition Project (PMNP).

The PPT guides and supports the community in identifying, planning and preparing project proposals to address their specific needs.

In her stint as a bookkeeper volunteer, Margolane learned that by having collective action among community volunteers, they can achieve so much more.

“Dahil po sa tulong ng [kapwa] volunteers, sila ‘yung naging dahilan para makabuo kami ng datos at dahil sa pagtutulong-tulong namin, nagawan namin ng paraan,” she explained.

(With the help of fellow volunteers, they became the main reason that we were able to complete the data needed, and through the cooperation of each member, we were able to create a strategy.)

With the perseverance of volunteers as well as the Barangay Local Government Unit (BLGU), the community was able to reap their efforts through the completion of their sub-projects which are Provision of Communication Devices, Cash-for-Work (CFW) and Provision of Equipment and Amenities for E-Library.

Margolane also sees the Community-Driven Development (CDD) approach of KALAHI-CIDSS as a way to resolve the needs of her community.

“Para sa akin, [ang CDD ay]…para masuportahan kung ano ang mga pangailangan sa komunidad,” she stated.

(For me, CDD is to support the needs of the community)

At present, Margolane’s impact as a volunteer extends beyond the boundaries of the pandemic. Through her journey, she has not only survived the pandemic challenges but she has grown as a person who brings positive change to her community.

According to the volunteer, she sees her journey as a bamboo.

“Dapat maging flexible sa lahat…parang minsan may time na susuko ka na, pero ginagawan mo pa rin na makatayo. Nakabangon ka pa rin, para po makagawa po nang mabuti at para maisakatuparan yung gusto mo or ‘yung goal mo sa buhay,” she described.

(You have to be flexible in everything…there were times, you almost gave up but you managed not to give up. You remained standing to create good things and to achieve your goals in life.)

Like a bamboo, she has demonstrated that it is possible to stay rooted and robust when facing a whirlwind of challenges. Let us keep in mind that the challenges are just ways to reinforce our willpower to create a cohesive community.