IT’S most natural to help our family, relatives and friends in their time of need. That is a good and blessed thing to do and yet there is yet a higher more noble virtue we can aspire to and that is to help the unknown stranger, the abandoned child, the hurting starving migrant, the victim of neglect and abuse, the poor and the oppressed.
There are many things we can also do to bring goodness into our community and environment without looking for a selfish benefit, without payment or a reward.
This we can do as volunteers, reach out from the goodness of our hearts and with compassion help the needy. In volunteering to serve others we can easily forget our own selfish desires and demands that make us so unhappy. When we have compassion for others, do acts of kindess, happiness comes to us even without looking for it.
Volunteers bring help to the needy and they reach out a helping hand to the downtrodden and the poor. Many help in there own country, others travel abroad to those with greater needs. Wherever they serve the community they have concern and compassion and a desire to help others in need. They help people unknown to them, people that cry out for their dignity and humanity to be respected and recognized. The humanitarian volunteers can act from natural goodness and others volunteers from Christian or other faiths and there they find their motivation and become bearers of goodness and unselfish love of neighbor.
Volunteers are persons who have a desire to reach out to the world and who want to share their friendship and skills and abilities to help others. Many volunteers; Filipino and other nationalities find their way to projects in the Philippines and some come to the Preda Foundation in Olongapo City through Facebook or the Internet.
Some volunteers say if they can only help just one person in this world move from a life of hardship, poverty and loneliness to a happier life then their efforts and self-sacrifice will be have been worthwhile. Although volunteers don’t come looking for rewards, some do say: “I have received more through this experience of helping than I could possibly give.” They are special people with a desire to live fully, productively, live with a purpose and meaning and they find it as volunteers.
Fionn Kinne-Coyle who served in the Preda Foundation recently wrote: “Volunteering to me is a chance to be able to give back to the world and the kids who I worked with during my time here in PREDA, shedding a bit of light and smiles on their day with also having many influences on me and gathering many strong and powerful experiences that I will carry for the rest of my life.”
There have been self-supporting students, professionals, teachers, social workers, lawyers, Internet techies, accountants, business managers, Fair-Trade volunteers, people of all occupations coming to Preda over the years. They have contributed greatly to the welfare of the children in the Preda Foundation homes, and also among the Indigenous Peoples, and some used their skills and knowledge, as administrators, managers, accountants, lawyers in the management and operation of the organization.
We at the Preda Foundation are very appreciative of the solidarity and help. The international volunteers and Filipinos paid their own fares and living costs and took nothing from the Preda funds that are committed to the 70 or more children at the two Preda Foundation children’s homes. As one said, “It cost me three times as much to live in my home community as it does here.”
Allison, a lawyer told me. “I would have spent twice this amount on a annual holiday in a beach resort and achieved nothing but a sun burn. Here at Preda I found a purpose in life and found myself .I will never be the same as before and I don’t want to be. I got more here than I could give.” She said this smiling.
The volunteers’ being there with the children and also in the villages of the indigenous mountain people boosts the self-worth and confidence of these abandoned and abused children and uplifts the dignity and self image of the excluded and marginalized villagers.
The presence of volunteers alone boosts the spirit and self-worth of the children. “Children, our volunteers have come a long way around the world, and saved up and spent their money just to be here with you because you are very important and precious children ,” I tell the children. Their smiles broaden and their self-worth soars. That truth alone is invaluable to them.
When Jun Saramento from Japan came to Preda Foundation he found a friendly welcome from the Preda staff and the boys and girls in the homes. For three months he went with the Preda social workers to the jails and helped bring the out the children to a life of freedom in the Preda home for boys. Some of the children are as young as eight and ten-years-old. The open Preda home in the countryside has no fences or guards it gives freedom of choice, emotional expression, therapy, affirmation and education. Jun quickly learned Tagalog and became an older brother to the boys.
Jun wrote: “What I did in PREDA is very valuable in my life. I’m thankful to all the staffs and boys. I hope my work in PREDA created self-confidence in the boys’ hearts and is effective for their better life after being back with their families. Moreover, I want to tell people in Japan about the boys, the problems of jail, families and communities that they are from and what I did for them….On my last day in the boys home, some boys gave me letters, some said ‘Jun, I miss you’ and some cried for me. The last 1 hour in the boys home is unforgettable and the greatest moment in my volunteer life in PREDA. Someday, I really would like to see them again…”
Fionn went with the Indigenous People to their villages and to help plant trees all over the mountains. He wrote: “I could not have even imagined how amazing these past two weeks would have been with seeing the beautiful sights and surroundings of the Philippines as well as meeting the amazing people and capturing such powerful memories throughout my time here.
“I am forever grateful for the opportunity and chances PREDA has given me with my time here. Living these experiences will be something I will never forget and will cherish till the day I die. The hospitality and kindness I have received here has been more than welcoming and I just wish I have given back as much as the Philippines and PREDA have given me.”