Sunday, Oct 17

Effective fact finding through home visits

October 07, 2018 | Jonas Trinidad

Before her colleagues, Tzu Chi volunteer Carmelita Rejano discusses the case of Mark John Fuellas. The 17-year-old of Barangay Calumpang, Marikina City is suffering from eye cancer and living in a space no bigger than this whiteboard. Rejano argues that the family needs financial support for them to afford a more decent home. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

Story Highlights

  • As Filipino Tzu Chi volunteers presented their cases from their home visits around the metro, their Taiwanese counterparts iterate the importance of asking the right questions. Through this can the volunteers provide the right kind of assistance to the people they are helping and would help.


Before her fellow volunteers at Jing Si (Still Thoughts) Hall, Tzu Chi volunteer Carmelita Rejano presented the case of the Fuellas family. This household of five lives in Barangay Calumpang, Marikina City within a floor area of roughly three square meters. By comparison, the whiteboard in the photo above is slightly larger.

Mark John, the youngest of four siblings, is suffering from retinoblastoma, a kind of eye cancer, in his left. When the volunteers visited the house, they found him playing with his smart phone under the kitchen sink. His father Jesus, a 42-year-old construction worker, sits scant feet from him. Ideally, the space can fit two people when sleeping, but Jesus volunteers to sleep outside for his children to be able to sleep soundly.

“It can be a challenge since I don’t get to sleep well, especially if I have to work the next day,” Jesus narrated.

The limited space also means the family has to leave their clothes and other belongings outside in plastic containers. Not locked by lock and key, the containers are often vulnerable to thieves especially when nobody’s home.

Jesus’ job only earns Php250 a day for his family, woefully not enough for a more decent living space. Based on these details, Rejano’s team drew up the recommendation of cash assistance at least for him to be able to afford renting a bigger space.

“Our goal is to mitigate the affliction of [Mark John]. He lives in such a cramped place while suffering from [eye cancer]. And the family’s situation isn’t any better. They need a place where the family can move around freely, so they can be relaxed and have a better outlook in life,” Rejano explained.

Groups of Filipino Tzu Chi volunteers on October 7 presented their cases as part of the monthly Volunteers Diligence Seminar. For this month, Tzu Chi Philippines invited Tzu Chi volunteers and staff from Taiwan to train their Filipino counterparts in the art of home visitations.

Aside from Marikina, areas of operation include Pasig City, CAMANAVA (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, and Valenzuela) area, Quezon City, downtown Manila, and San Mateo, Rizal. Each group is accompanied by one Taiwanese volunteer and one Filipino-Chinese volunteer liaison.

Home visits allow volunteers to peer into a person’s life. Not only does it confirm the information handed to them, it also enables them to find out more about the subject. Such an activity is also important in letting the subject know that someone cares for him/her.

Teresita Lalic, 75 years old of Barangay Barangka, feels the love whenever Tzu Chi volunteers come over. Despite living alone and struggling with partial paralysis (caused by stroke), Lalic manages to do what needs doing every day. The foundation has been providing her with meds for the past seven years.

“There are no words to express my gratitude. “Thank you,” for me, isn’t enough. May God continue to guide Tzu Chi in helping more people like me,” said Lalic.


The right questions

Assigned to Rejano’s group, Taiwanese volunteer Tsai Hsieh Ing was happy to be a part of the Filipino volunteers’ efforts to spread love. She iterated the importance of interaction between the volunteer and subject.

“I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to join the Filipino volunteers in doing their home visits. Through this, I feel that I’m very blessed. By going out and interacting with the families, we’re able to spread the good words of Buddhism to them,” said Tsai.

Tsai also noted that the volunteers still have room for improvement, namely in asking the right questions. An effective fact-finding method ensures the right kind of support for the subject. If given the opportunity, she wants to hold a separate workshop to develop the necessary skills.

“We also need to understand the background of the family because, every time we go there, we need to ask the right questions to get the right answers. That way, you can give the support the family needs,” Tsai adds.

  • For this month’s Volunteers Diligence Seminar, Tzu Chi volunteers are trained in the art of home visitation. Split into groups, they scour their respective areas for current and potential beneficiaries. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • “Thank you” isn’t enough for 75-year-old Teresita Lalic (center) to express her gratitude. For seven years, Tzu Chi has supported her medical needs to manage her maladies. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • An unexpected downpour didn’t deter the volunteers from visiting the Fuellas residence in Barangay Calumpang. They’re surprised to see how small their home is, more so when they stepped inside. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • In need of more details, Rejano sits down with Jesus Fuellas, Mark John’s father. The space they sit on already takes up half of the total space available. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Taiwanese volunteer Tsai Ming Mo (right) adds more details to Rejano’s case presentation. The seminar stresses the importance of getting the right details in home visits. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • The volunteers unanimously come to the decision to help the Fuellas family with a show of hands. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Based on the information presented, the case of the Fuellas family is settled. The presentation is also a learning experience for the Filipino volunteers, most of which ask what kind of help they should give and how much is enough.【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】