by Mary Ann Villablanca
CAGAYAN DE ORO, Misamis Oriental- I have long secretly admired the health workers at the Barangay Health Center of Bugo in Cagayan de Oro City. I wanted to be like them—serving people in need and bringing positive change to the community.
One morning, while taking a stroll around the barangay hall, I met Susan Grenio, a member of the Citizens Watch for Good Governance. Ate Susan invited me to attend a Family Development Session (FDS) the CWGG was conducting for beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program (4Ps). It was during this event when Ate Susan introduced me to CWGG Executive Director Jonathan Mongcal, who would later become Checkmyschool chapter coordinator in Cagayan de Oro.
When Sir Jonathan introduced CMS to our organization, I immediately wanted to join CMS because I knew it would give us the knowledge and capability to bring positive change in the community. If nobody cared about the welfare of others, nothing would change. I know that education is the only way to break free from poverty, and I wish to spread this knowledge to others in the community.
I was given an opportunity to be part of a research and monitoring project involving 4Ps beneficiaries in CMS partner schools of the GROUP Foundations, Inc. After the completion of the research project, I worked on a survey involving Typhoon Sendong victims, one of who was a member of the Villeview Lumbia Homeowners Association. As part of the survey, I interviewed people from different areas of Cagayan de Oro City; most of them were professionals.
Overcoming challenges and achieving success are the highlights of my experience as a CMS volunteer. One unforgettable experience was the SaGIFT Aral project in which we partnered with the Kiwanis Club and Department of Interior and Local Government to distribute school supplies in selected Cagayan de Oro schools. The smiles on the faces of the students were absolutely priceless.
Another experience I cannot forget was the time the principal of one school called a meeting between all the teachers and CMS volunteers. In the meeting, we discussed ways to address the many issues in the school, which included lack of water supply and dilapidated classrooms. When we returned to the school several months later, the issues were all resolved—a dramatic change! I believe that the school principal is a key driver for change and should always be a priority for us CMS volunteers.
I had initially taken up Bachelor of Science in Information Technology. After participating in various CMS monitoring activities, I shifted to Bachelor of Arts in Community Development at Tagoloan Community College, as I knew this course would help me pursue my passion to serve the community.
My work with CMS has brought many positive changes not only to the schools where we work, but to my personal life as well. My children tell me how proud they are of their mother’s volunteer work. I have learned to balance my time between taking care of my children and volunteering for CMS, a personal achievement that gives me a sense of completeness. Through CMS, I also witnessed how facilitating dialogue among stakeholders can be a powerful means to resolve differences and issues. My CMS work has become a fulfilling activity that I look forward to.
After I shared my CMS experiences in class, six of my classmates have now joined me as CMS volunteers and are committed to promoting the spirit of volunteerism in our school. My teachers have recognized my community development skills and now ask me to help out in different activities such as immersions. CMS helped build my community development skills and boosted my self-confidence. People now have more trust in my ability to help them.
I will definitely continue to volunteer with CMS as the work we do in this socially relevant project provides invaluable field experience for community development students such as myself.
Edited by Eric Michael B. Santos