Of all the teachings shared with volunteers at Tzu Chi Foundation seminars, it’s the belief in life’s impermanence that Gina Lenchico relates to the most.
Indeed, the 53-year-old wife and mother of four boys has faced her fair share of seemingly insurmountable challenges—from losing her job as a sewer of stuffed toys just before the pandemic to worrying about where to find the resources to send her four sons to school. “We reached the point where we had nothing. Absolutely nothing,” she says. “Through the seminars, I learned that everything changes. Even your problems eventually go away.”
Today, Lenchico and her husband Noel have found steady income managing her brother’s sari-sari store right next to their home in Tumana, Marikina. Their sons have also turned out fine. The first two have families of their own. The third, a Tzu Chi Foundation scholar, graduated cum laude with a degree in business administration; he presently works as a call center agent. The youngest is in Grade 10.
The Lenchicos even overcame the widespread damage to lives and property caused by Typhoon Ulysses in November 2020. One of 14,000 families in Tumana to receive generous financial aid from the foundation, they used their share to replace items in their home destroyed by raging floodwaters. One of them, a simple modular sofa, is in the color gray, “like my Tzu Chi uniform,” she says proudly.
Whether she’s aware of it or not, Lenchico applies the principle of impermanence in her efforts as a volunteer. Through her participation in relief operations and medical missions in Cabanatuan, Marawi, Porac in Pampanga, and Tacloban and Ormoc in Leyte, she has been instrumental in helping change the lives and situations of Filipinos reeling from the devastation of fires, storms, and other catastrophes.
The true volunteer that she is, she typically puts the needs of others before hers. After Typhoon Ulysses, she and a group of Tumana volunteers trooped to the nearby community of Malanday to help rid their streets of trash and mud, before doing the same for their own area. Amidst piles of debris and muck, the volunteers were quite a sight, cleaning the surroundings clad in their gray collared T-shirts and pristine white pants.
“We’re tired when we get home,” she says with a smile. “But I’m happy knowing that we were able to help people.”
Photos by: Daniel Lazar