– Junbert T. Pabon
Around 20 students and young professionals from Macau and Portugal have recently visited the Philippines to volunteer at a summer work camp.
The summer work camp, which was held from June 11 to 27 in Manila and Palawan, Philippines, was organized by the Honlam Education and Research Association (HERA) of Macau.
The program aims to provide an opportunity for young people to be able to serve others who are in need and as well as to foster societal awareness, community involvement, and cultural integration.
“Something that motivated me to organize the work camp is my belief that by bringing them face-to-face with suffering like physical health, then they would grow in maturity and gain virtues like fortitude,” said Joseph Sy-Changco, organizer from HERA and assistant professor from the University of Macau.
This year, the volunteers visited the slums of Tondo, the poorest of the poor community found in Manila, to do feeding program and tutorial classes, to give school supplies to the children, and to distribute grocery items to the families in the community. Arrangements for these outreach in Tondo were made through Project Pearl.
The volunteers also visited the ‘Bahay Aruga,’ a free halfway house for pediatric cancer patients, and Philippine Children’s Medical Center to give toys and grocery items for patients diagnosed with cancer and surgical diseases.
“Even when it looked bad, small pleasures remained. During the daily prayer before breakfast, the kids in Tondo are grateful with beautiful smiles on their faces. For the sick kids in the medical center, the instant happiness of receiving our gifts were so earnest that we felt it’d been too long since we were properly satisfied,” said Jim Lei Wanjun, a work camp volunteer from the University of Macau.
“One thing that the students learn is that even in the small things we do, it can mean a lot to those whom we visited,” Sy-Changco said.
Seminars about the Philippine economy, social entrepreneurship, business, and advertising that was conducted in Ateneo de Manila University and University of Asia and the Pacific were also participated by the volunteers of the work camp.
In Palawan, the volunteers helped to repair and paint the classrooms and gave classes to the students of Sta. Monica High School, Puerto Princessa City.
The community service project in Palawan was in cooperation with the office of Vice Governor Dennis Socrates.
“I saw this program as a powerful tool and as a means of forming young people who will become future leaders of the community and the society,” Sy-Changco concluded.
The work camp, organized twice a year since 2015, is funded by the Galaxy Entertainment Group.