In Ormoc City, a group of young people are making a difference through volunteerism.
Formed in early 2017, the Tzu Chi Ormoc Youth Group is composed of over 50 members whose ages range from thirteen to twenty-five. Tzu Chi is supporting over 20 of these children’s education. Whether it’s a college degree or a vocational course, Tzu Chi’s scholarship grant covers their miscellaneous fees and transportation allowance.
Among the group’s regular activities is promoting recycling and waste segregation around the Great Love City, Tzu Chi Foundation’s temporary housing village for Super Typhoon Yolanda survivors in Barangay Liloan, Ormoc. In the occasions of disasters, these young volunteers are also among the first to rally for Tzu Chi’s relief works.
When Tropical Storm Urduja dumped torrential rains over the Eastern Visayas region, the city of Ormoc was among the worst affected. Great Love City also experienced flooding. As the affected families reel from the tragedy, Tzu Chi Ormoc Youth Group mobilized to help their neighbors finally come home after days of staying at the evacuation centers.
One of the recipients of their help is the Lubon family.
Even before the tropical storm happened, the Lubon family is already having a difficult life. With a mother blinded by cataracts and a father paralyzed by stroke, the eldest son, who works in the construction, is the only one who keeps the family afloat. His two younger sisters look after their parents.
After the flood subsided, the Lubon family’s house was a mess. All their furniture, flooring, and walls were covered in thick mud.
Knowing this, members of the Tzu Chi Ormoc Youth Group came to assist in the cleanup.
Armed with their cleaning tools, the young volunteers got to work. They divided the tasks between them. One group was assigned to clean the muddied foldable beds and other furniture, while another was tasked with clearing up the mud inside the house and cleaning up the walls.
“The daughters cannot do the cleanup on their own since they have to look after their parents. That is why we thought of coming here. We want to help clean up their home faster so they can move back within the day,” says 19-year-old Reynante Imperial, who leads the group.
As residents of the Great Love City, these young volunteers were also affected by the flooding. In fact, the house of Christian Ronquillo, 19, had yet to be completely cleaned. Nonetheless, he joined fellow volunteers in clearing up their neighbor’s house first.
“As a Tzu Chi volunteer, we set aside our self because we know there are people who need our help,” Christian says.
It was their genuine concern for their neighbors that gave them the strength to give of themselves even when they are also in suffering. As a result, they learn to cherish their own blessings.
“We are blessed that our family members are all healthy and we managed to finish cleaning our own home. But this family could not do it as fast,” says Sem Rodriguez, 20.
Apart from their neighbors’ houses, Tzu Chi Ormoc Youth group also helped in cleaning up the different facilities inside the Great Love City such as the library, the weekend market place, the recycling center, among others. They also volunteer their strength during the series of relief distributions held from December 23 to 28.
Young as they may be, these volunteers have hearts wise and big enough to embrace people in need.