The very first Tzu Chi Alumni Homecoming for the Livelihood Program focused on the importance of volunteerism and coming back to give back to the community, especially one that has helped you. There was an air of gratitude and happy smiles throughout the whole day.
On the sunny morning of the seventh of July 2019, students of the Tzu Chi Foundation’s Livelihood program joined up with alumni of their respective programs to celebrate their first ever homecoming.
After registration program was opened by the Livelihood program’s OIC Bernardo Haduca Jr. who gave a summary of the future of the Livelihood program and challenged everyone to do better in the future.
Hosted by Cherrie Ang and other volunteers, the program was started with a raffle to the volunteers. Throughout the day in increments, there were short raffles that peppered the program so that all participants get something to bring home. During a fun intermission, Lawrence Haduca serenaded his audience with a song he wrote for Tzu Chi. Then Cherrie entertained the participants with her singing. The class and audience were then invited to participate in sign language and singing of “Pulling the Ox Cart” and “Powerful”, two songs about unity and teamwork.
Doctor Peter Sing gave a very inspirational talk called “Facing the Outside World with Honor and Excellence”. It is about helping others when you have the means to do so, and also instructed the participants on financial literacy. He iterated that the most powerful weapon a person can have is their mind, requoting “Your future financial Security does not depend on how much you earn but on how much you save and invest”.
Peggy Sy, on the other hand, gave a talk about the Joy of Volunteerism. Not only did she give a convincing talk about how volunteerism having benefits to the heart and mind, she also stressed the importance of giving without looking for reward and that now that you have the means, pass on the blessings.
After giving Doctor Peter Sing and Peggy Sy tokens of appreciation, there was a recognition for the Volunteer Instructors where their students thanked them as a group. Then it was time for lunch.
Among the participants of the Homecoming, were Kristian Perez, who explained how the Tzu Chi Livelihood program gave him focus and a goal for the future, and Evangeline Sumaling, who is a very eloquent woman, explained to us how Tzu Chi’s Livelihood program changed her life, making her more disciplined. When asked about what she planned to do next, she gave a smile and said, “Come see later”.
After Lunch Break, there was a surprise video about their fellow graduates of Tzu Chi Foundation’s Machine Operation Course (MOC); Ronald Bastinga and Carlos Panesa who are working in Taiwan. There were cheers from fellow batch mates and alumni at finding out their classmates were doing well and that their families were given better lives as a result.
Evangeline’s mysterious statement was answered a little later because there was a presentation of Project Proposals. Evangeline’s team, Machine Batch 3, proposed volunteer work for the Little Sisters of the Abandoned Elderly. They proposed an outreach project that will assist the staff, do housekeeping and, keep the elderly company. When asked why they chose to do the project, Evangeline said that something one of the old people said haunted her; “When you are alone, time goes by so slowly. Thank Goodness you are all here”.
After a parlor game, it was time to award the winners of the Project Proposal. The runners up were the Welding batch with an ingenious umbrella stand, and the winner was Evangeline’s team.
There was presentation of coin cans, then vow making for those who want to become Vegetarians and those who want to be certified Volunteers. Then there were the closing remarks.
Before anyone else could leave however, there was one last surprise. The volunteers sang a song for the Aunties and their volunteer teachers and gave them bouquets of flowers. There were joyful tears and a general feeling of love. Auntie Olga Vendivel gave a tearful speech of gratitude to her students and wished them well. Thus the day ended on a high note.