Amidst the lush greenery, an inspiring figure paints an effervescent tapestry of inclusivity that colors the village of Barangay Catanagan in the municipality of Juban, Sorsogon.

Creating a space for empowerment and inclusion, Noel “Samantha Agatha” Enalpe, 35, a person with disability (PWD) and a proud member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual (LGBTQIA+) community is forging a journey as a community volunteer of the Department of Social Welfare and Development Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (DSWD KALAHI-CIDSS).

In her journey as a PWD and a member of LGBTQIA+ community, Noel has emerged as a symbol of resilient spirit of acceptance and courage as she saw an opportunity to bridge gaps, promote for inclusivity and ensure that the voices of community members are heard and valued regardless of background, ethnicity, age and gender.

At a young age, Noel firsthand understood the challenges physically as well as emotionally. But when KALAHI-CIDSS was introduced to her, it formed a spark in her to enhance her skills as an individual and a part of her village.

“Nang dumating ang KALAHI-CIDSS, nag-udyok siya sa ‘kin na ma-enhance ang aking sarili na maki-cooperate sa komunidad dito sa aming barangay at dito ma-enhance ang aking kakayahan na kahit may kapansanan man, dapat ipagpatuloy kung ano ang kayang gawin para makatulong po sa ating
komunidad,” she explained.

(When KALAHI-CIDSS arrived in our community, it encouraged me to enhance myself in cooperating with the community and improve my skills despite my disability as well as continuously share my talents and skills to the best of my ability to help our community.)

As a volunteer, Noel was a part of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) which plays a vital role in ensuring transparency, fairness and efficiency of the procurement activities for community-identified interventions. Despite her vigor to contribute to the village, some community members ridiculed her capabilities as a volunteer but it did not hinder her from performing her duties and responsibilities.

Through the cooperation among community volunteers, the group completed three (3) sub-projects which are Cash-for-Work, Installation of Public Address System and Concreting of Pathway with Grouted Riprap under the National Community-Driven Development Program Additional Financing (NCDDP AF) with 303, 445 and 40 household beneficiaries, respectively.

From her accomplishments as a community volunteer, Noel also played a pivotal role in nurturing an atmosphere of acceptance for PWDs and members of LGBTQIA+ community as she became a daycare worker, a president of the PWD organization in her barangay and secretary at the municipal level.

“Napakahalaga po na bilang volunteer, may kapansanan ka man o wala, dapat continuous lang po kung ano po ang dapat nating gawin na makakabuti sa ating barangay,” she advised.

(As a volunteer, with or without disability, it is important to continuously assist our community for development.)

Noel’s dual identity as a PWD and member of LGBTQIA+ community became one of the sources of inspiration and empowerment.

As KALAHI-CIDSS remains steadfast in promoting the principles of Community-Driven Development which are Participation, Transparency and Accountability, the program ensures that community volunteers like Noel serve as the vanguard for transformative impact in the communities.

“Maging matatag at huwag matitinag,” the volunteer concluded.

(Stay strong and don’t budge.)