“Volunteering for the community is no easy task and even harder when you are alone. Everyone should be working all together.”
These are the words Aprilyn Balanon Ferrer learned in one of her trainings as a community volunteer of Poblacion, San Gabriel, La Union for the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services – National Community-Driven Development Program (Kalahi CIDSS – NCDDP) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
The 33 year-old Ferrer is lamenting the difficulties she is facing as a volunteer for the Participatory Situational Analysis (PSA) and as Chairperson of the Project Preparation Team (PPT) from the first to the third cycles of the program in her barangay.
When she sat down for an interview, she was timid and hesitant at first. She was holding her words and seemed like she was sizing up whether or not she could trust her words about her experiences with the program to her interviewer.
“Ang hirap (It’s very difficult)!” Ferrer opened up when she was asked of her comment being a community volunteer.
A teary eyed Ferrer continued to tell her challenges in mobilizing the community like gathering them for committee meetings and barangay assemblies. The lack of support from the Barangay Officials is making her work even harder.
THE COLD TREATMENT
The mother of three thinks that the cold treatment of the people of Poblacion to the program stems from the fact that there is no single sub-project proposal from her barangay that is prioritized up to this day.
“Baka iniisip nila na wala naman nangyayari sa pagod nila kasi hindi naman kami napa-prioritize (The people might be thinking that nothing is happening with their effort because they have never been prioritized),” says Ferrer. “Pero hindi nila naisip na sila ay nae-empower (But they have not realized that they are being empowered).”
The cold reception was already manifested during the first cycle but it became even colder on the next cycles.
For Ferrer, no matter how much effort she pours in to the program when less people are cooperating, she will always come to a point where she needs to assess herself whether or not she is wasting her time.
NO GIVING UP
When asked if she is giving up, she paused and bowed her head. After a second of silence, she raised her head and then flashed a forced smile on her face.
“Hindi ako susuko (I won’t give up),” Ferrer quips. “Gusto ko talaga makatulong sa aming lugar. Iyan yung rason ko kung bakit ako naging volunteer noong una (I really wanted to help our community. That is the reason why I volunteered the first time).”
Ferrer also worked for the Local Government Unit of San Gabriel as a job order for six months because she really wanted doing public service.
She vowed to remain committed with DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS because she believes with the goals of the program. Although it is not easy to be a volunteer while taking care of her family, her passion to spread the program’s advocacy remains high.
Now, that the program is on its fourth and final cycle, she wishes that her barangay’s sub-project proposal will be prioritized at the municipal level in order to get a funding. She feels more positive this time.
“Naniniwala naman ako ngayon na may pag-asa nang mas maraming tao at opisyal ng aming barangay ang makikibahagi sa programang ito. Kung hindi pa rin kami ma-prioritize, ang mahalaga ay marami kaming natutunan (I believe that there is hope this time that there will be more people and officials from our community to get involved with this program. In case, we will still not be prioritized, what is important is we learned a lot),” says Ferrer as she closed the interview.
For the fourth cycle of DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS, Ferrer is once again a volunteer for the PSA of her community.
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
The DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS is one of the main poverty reduction programs of the Philippine government that seeks to apply local participatory, community-led and community-driven approaches proven to be effective in community development work.
It is serving eleven (11) municipalities and 133 barangays in Region I. Today, a total of 125 sub-projects have been completed and 25 more sub-projects are being implemented. (by Ruperto A. Sabalo, Jr., Social Marketing Officer, Kalahi-CIDSS)