Nowadays, youth are increasingly taking active steps in making a difference and are very vocal in raising their concerns and perspectives on the issues of their communities. With this, there has been a significant rise in youth involvement and volunteerism particularly in community development.
Nestled deep within the heart of Barangay Planza in the municipality of San Fernando, Camarines Sur, a youth volunteer named Richard S. Carillo, 22, is tirelessly working to uplift the lives of his fellow community members through the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS).
KALAHI-CIDSS is a program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) that uses Community-Driven Development (CDD) wherein communities are given a voice and opportunities in decision-making, planning, implementing, and sustaining community-identified projects.
Before joining the program as a community volunteer, Richard had been already a volunteer in various organizations wherein he gained knowledge and experience both as a leader and a volunteer.
“I’m living with a purpose and sabi natin na tayong mga volunteers, ‘hindi tayo volunteers lang, tayo ay magagawa at maia-ambag po sa ating komunidad ano man estado natin sa buhay’,” he explained.
(“I’m living with a purpose and as we said, ‘we, volunteers, are not merely just volunteers, we are doing something, contributing something for the community no matter what our status of living is’.)
SHINING AS A VOLUNTEER
Richard also believes that volunteers don’t necessarily have the time, they just have the heart. Despite his busy schedule as a student and a volunteer in various organizations, he still pursued his volunteerism activities in KALAHI-CIDSS as a Procurement Team leader.
As part of the Procurement Team, they are responsible for preparing the documents for the procurement of supplies and services for the sub-project. Through this process, Richard, together with his co-volunteers has experienced coordinating with various suppliers and contractors and serving Requests for Quotation and Purchase Orders which they haven’t experienced before.
“Binibigyan po ng pagkakataon ‘yong mga community volunteers na mag-shine, na lumabas sa kanilang comfort zone and by this natututo kami ng mga bagay na hindi namin inaakala na matututunan namin,” he described.
(Community volunteers are given the chance to shine and step out of their comfort zone, and by this, we learn things we didn’t expect to learn.)
With the efforts of the Barangay officials and community volunteers, the community has completed the implementation of barangay health station with a project cost of PhP 1,507,068.00 and barangay road with a project cost of PhP 602,827.00 under the National Community-Driven Development Program Additional Financing (NCDDP AF) benefiting 611 households and 42 households, respectively.
As CDD puts the power in the hands of the people, KALAHI-CIDSS ensures that community members are heard regardless of age, gender, or social status.
“Sa paraan po ng CDD or the Community-Driven Development approach, ito ay nagbukas ng bagong pinto at nagbukas ng bagong oportunidad para sa mga community volunteers na ma-exercise ang aming goals at ma-exercise ang aming rights bilang mga community volunteers,” he stated.
(In CDD or Community-Driven Development approach, it opens new doors and opportunities in order for community volunteers to exercise their goals and rights.)
For Richard, being a volunteer is both a blessing and a gift from God with a responsibility to share with others.
“As a youth and leader, I have the responsibility to share this gift to others na balik sa komunidad, makatulong sa komunidad at makapaghikayat pa po ng mga kapwa ko volunteers lalong lalo na to serve the community and to be agents of change to create difference and to shape the future,” the volunteer said.
(As a youth and leader, I have the responsibility to share this gift with others, to give back to the community, to help the citizens, and to encourage fellow youth to volunteer and serve the community and be agents of change to create difference and to shape the future.)
Richard and the countless number of youth volunteers serve as a reminder that “age is just a number” is more than a catchphrase; it is a strength that can transform lives in society.