by Nimfa Gasangan
Nimfa Gasangan documents issues during one of her school visits.
GUIMARAS – It was 2014 when I was asked to be a CheckMySchool (CMS) volunteer. Ma’am Eva Villanueva, CMS provincial coordinator, personally approached me. Curious, I attended the orientation. There were many attendees, including barangay officials, out-of-school youth, and other local residents. Together with Ma’am Charrie Joy Masculino, another active CMS coordinator, Ma’am Eva’s presentation made a good impression on me.
Volunteering for CMS, I thought to myself after the orientation, is a welcome challenge and a refreshing change in my daily routine. I am a housewife with three grown-up children, so taking time to volunteer would not be a problem. I texted my husband, a seafarer, and informed him that I was joining CMS, adding that I would only be required to visit schools occasionally. He supported my decision, saying it would be a pleasant break from my routine as a homemaker and mother to my children.
In the course of my volunteer work, I observed that it could sometimes be tiring but nevertheless always fulfilling. We had to study the monitoring process well to be able to explain it better to principals. Together with other volunteers in our group, I was able to overcome such hurdle, completed the tasks and submitted the required reports.
I am a long-time Guimaras resident, but it was only after joining CMS that I was able to visit many barangays in our province. My husband told me that as a volunteer I was fortunate in having the opportunity to see many places and meet different people.
Nimfa on her way to monitor the Unisan Multigrade School in Guimaras.
It was quite challenging for us to look for the schools’ transparency boards, updated MOOE liquidation reports and other budget items. Even before we started gathering school issues, people in the schools were already sharing their problems to us, which, at first, did not sit well with some principals and teachers. This pushed me to work harder on their issues and problems, which I raised to the local government and Department of Education offices. My heartfelt gratitude to Mr. Victor de Gracia, former School Division Superintendent of Guimaras, for prioritizing the resolutions of the school issues we forwarded to his office.
When we returned to the schools, the teachers thanked us for facilitating the long overdue repair of their classrooms. I also saw rekindled hope in the teachers who realized that there were people willing to help them.
I am profoundly grateful to CMS for changing my life and giving me the opportunity to visit many places and meet new friends from Luzon to Mindanao. I now know a lot more teachers and principals who call us volunteers, not by our name, but simply as “CheckMySchool”, but we don’t mind.
Nimfa (second from right) and CMS Provincial Coordinator Eva Villanueva meet with teachers of Paaralan ng Buhay ng Tando during the issue gathering.
Following up the progress of school projects may be a simple task, but it is a huge privilege for me. Even when it’s not a school day, some principals send us text messages thanking CMS for facilitating the repair of classrooms or the delivery of school equipment. Their expressions of gratitude are truly touching.
I was right: being a CMS volunteer has indeed been a good challenge and a refreshing change in my daily routine as a housewife and mother. It has enabled me to venture beyond our house and my children’s school, and talk to influential people in government.
I proudly say now that I am not just a housewife, but also a CMS volunteer who helps schools in Guimaras. Big thanks to Ma’am Eva and Ma’am Charrie for their kindness and patience in guiding me in our volunteer work. Thank you so much to CheckMySchool for changing the way I see myself and what I can do.
If there’s any issue, problem or anything that you think needs improvement in your school, let us know if CMS can help. Go to http://www.checkmyschool.org/cms-can-help/.