Today, May 9, 2016, is the day when the nation’s voters troop to different precincts all over the country to vote for a new President, Vice President, Senators, and local government representatives. There is an air of both hope and trepidation as to what the next few days could bring. But voting is a right that not all can claim to have, and exercising this right is the very essence of democracy and nation-building.
The same can be said for volunteers who help keep institutions like Gota de Leche in Manila afloat. Working with what they have in a low-key, quiet ways define many of Gota’s volunteers, be they professionals, students, or anyone in-between. Gota de Leche has survived wars, famine, political and environmental upheavals, and many other trials that would be difficult to withstand if not for the many helping hands reaching out to keep the milk of human kindness flowing.
Last May 5, a small group of volunteers calling themselves “Road to Charity (With a Heart)” organized an early Mothers’ Day event for some of Gota’s breastfeeding beneficiaries. They are 11 friends who met in high school, and who held their Physical Education activities in the Gota compound some time in the mid-1970s. Ms Eve Yap, one of the group’s more active members, said they had no idea at the time what Gota de Leche was all about, although they were aware that there were regular feedings being done in the premises.
Fast-forward to last year, the group of friends met up and expressed their interest to do charity work that will stem from the help they regularly extend to their batchmates in need. Ms Eve describes the group as “mostly retired”, but since they have a network of professionals who can help, they decided to be benefactors of Gota de Leche’s nutritional program for kids. Road to Charity sponsored the February feedings and described the experience as “fulfilling”; further cementing their commitment to being beneficiaries of Gota’s moms and kids in need.
They expressed their desire to help to some of their peers, many who are government employees who generously parted with their 13th month salaries to donate food, milk, gifts, and other supplies for the monthly feeding and events. Road to Charity never actively advertised their charity work, and do not have any plans to because they prefer word-of-mouth campaigning. In fact, Ms Eve confesses to hand-picking Gota de Leche as their chosen beneficiary because the institution reflects their own low-key, simple way of helping.
Voting and volunteering both require taking time out from a busy schedule for true nation-building. Road to Charity is a group determined to donate, organize events, volunteer their time, resources, and presence to a cause they believe in. They show us that bringing about positive change starts with believing you have the capacity to do so.