Breaking Boundaries: An endless journey of passion for community service
Women can make changes in the community. It is shown beyond doubt by the inspiring experience of Gina Rico Fuentes. She is an ordinary constituent of Barangay Bartolome, Santa Magdalena, Sorsogon who only thinks about how to meet their daily needs before she was chosen and elected as one of the community volunteers in their
Barangay when the Department of Social Welfare and Development Kapit – Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Services (DSWD KALAHI-CIDSS) program started in their community in 2015.
DSWD KALAHI – CIDSS is a poverty alleviation program of the Philippine Government being implemented by DSWD. The program helps the communities in poor municipalities to determine challenges on poverty and implement developmental projects using the strategy of Community-Driven Development (CDD) Approach.
According to Gina, at first, she was hesitant to be elected because she did not feel confident to become Barangay Sub-Project Management Committee (BSPMC) Chairperson.
“Noong una po nagdadalawang-isip po ako dahil natatakot po akong magkamali at mapahiya ang mga taong nagtiwala sa akin at nagluklok na maging volunteers” she explained.
(At first, I was hesitant because I was afraid of making mistakes and embarrassing the people who trusted me to become a volunteer.)
But when she realized that it is for the welfare of their community, Gina conquered her hesitations and stepped out of her comfort zone to fulfill her calling to help the community lead for improvement.
Being a community volunteer is not easy, Gina also faced challenges. It is when her family started to question her decision to serve the community.
“Mayroon pong pagkakataon na tinatanong ako ng aking pamilya kung bakit po patuloy akong naninilbihan sa aming komunidad at mayroon din pong pagkakataon na tinututulan nila ang aking desisyon sapagkat wala naman daw po akong nakukuha sa pagiging volunteer, ako lang naman daw po ang napapagod.” she further explained.
(There were times when my family asked me why I continue to serve in our community, and there were also times they opposed my decision to serve because according to them, I do not get anything in return for being a volunteer and that I only get tired.)
But despite her family opposing her decision, she continues to fight and strive for her passion for volunteerism, because for Gina, serving and helping the community in the simplest way can make her really happy.
“Sa katulad kong ordinaryong tao lamang sa Barangay, ang makatulong ng ganito sa aking kapwa ay hindi matatawaran ng kahit na anong yaman sa mundo.”
(To ordinary people like me in the community, helping my neighbors in this way cannot be equated with any wealth in the world.)
ENDEAVORING FOR DEVELOPMENT
The community of San Bartolome is one of the 14 Barangays of Sta. Magdalena, Sorsogon with a population of 3,356. Most of the constituents rely on farming, fishing, handicraft making, and hog raising.
But when the pandemic started, it brought a negative impact to the community of San Bartolome. Gina Rico Fuentes identifies unemployment as one of the problems in their community since most of their constituents lost their jobs and source of income.
Another is the lack of communication devices during the pandemic and during disasters.
Due to the following issues, the community selected Cash-for-Work (CFW) and Provision of Communication Devices for Information Dissemination as their sub-projects.
By utilizing her knowledge in implementing sub-projects she gained when she joined the program in 2015, Gina’s overbearing passion for volunteerism and community service continues as she spearheads the two sub-projects in their community. CFW for Communal Gardening and De-clogging of Canal that provides temporary jobs to informal sector who lost their sources of income and Provision of Additional Communication Devices for the community to use this pandemic and during natural calamities for easy access to vital information disseminated by the government.
“Malaking tulong po ang karagdagang communication device ngayong panahon ng pandemya sapagkat mas napadali ang pamamahagi ng mga mahahalagang imformasyon na ibinababa ng pamahalaan tungkol sa health protocols and standards at iba pang mahalagang balita,” Fuentes said.
(The additional communication device is a big help during this pandemic because it is easier to receive and deliver vital information from the government especially regarding health protocols and standards and other important news updates.)
Both sub-projects amounting to PHP 1,186,633.14 were funded under DSWD KALAHI – CIDSS and counterpart contribution of Local Government Unit (LGU).
Aside from the two sub-projects under Additional Financing, the program also funded another sub-project amounting to PHP 2,243,200.00 in 2018. It is the Construction of the Community Center.
According to Gina, the Community Center provided temporary quarantine facilities to those Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs) and Patients Under Investigation (PUI) and Person Under Monitoring (PUM) who are returning to their communities.
Over the years, the community of San Bartolome continues to lead for improvement and development through collective efforts, hard work, perseverance, and participation of all community members.
Meanwhile, Gina’s passion for community service in her six (6) years of experience as a community volunteer embedded unforgettable memories in her life.
Written by: Angelica J. Durante – DSWD Intern
With reports from Area Coordinating Team (ACT) Sta. Magdalena