Tzu Chi Foundation volunteers revisited the Great Love Villages in Barangay Rizal and Hiloctogan in Kananga, Leyte on April 9. The volunteers were overwhelmed to discover that the residents had started saving a peso daily as donation to pay forward the help they had received.
In Kananga, a municipality in Leyte, residents of Tzu Chi’s Great Love Villages in Barangay Hiloctogan and Rizal proved that being less-fortunate does not necessarily mean being helpless. Although they don’t have much, they extend helping hands to others in need by donating what they can.
Alfreda Lafuerta is one of them.
At 64 years old, Lafuerta supports herself by selling vegetables in the market. Life was far from perfect but it was peaceful and Lafuerta was satisfied.
However, in July 2017, a 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck central Leyte and forced them from their houses. For months, Lafuerta and her neighbors stayed under tents until Tzu Chi Foundation built them prefabricated shelters. Four months after the quake, 120 displaced families moved into their new homes.
In February 2018, the Buddhist group returned to distribute foldable beds to each family. Prior to the distribution, volunteers shared with the recipients the concept of saving a peso daily in a coin bank for charity. The same practice had given birth to Tzu Chi Foundation 52 years ago. Moved, Lafuerta, along with many of her neighbors, vowed to adopt the practice.
Over a month later, on April 9 Tzu Chi volunteers revisited the Great Love Villages in Kananga and were overwhelmed with the surge of donations from the residents.
“Everyone is eager to give,” observed volunteer May Entero.
In addition to the contents of her coin bank, Lafuerta gave another Php170. “I felt that the amount I had pledged to donate is too small. I have a bit of extra money so I thought of giving some more. Although I am old, I just want to be able to help,” she shared.
Felix Ermac Sr. is of the same age as Lafuerta. To support himself, he plants abaca. On a good week, he earns Php800 but on rainy days, he comes home with a weekly income of Php200.
Despite this, Ermac had vowed to set aside some of his money, not for himself but for charity purposes. He kept his promise and handed his donations to the volunteers.
“Tzu Chi had helped us before. While the donation I can give is very little compared to the extent of Tzu Chi’s assistance to our family, I feel happy and grateful for the chance to help,” said Ermac.
Tzu Chi volunteers underscored that it was not the amount of money that the residents can give that’s important but the sincerity in giving. “It doesn’t matter if they can only give a few pesos because when we gather all these donations, it can make a difference already,” explained Entero.