Tzu Chi Foundation’s Machine Operation Course opened for its second batch of trainees on May 23. With the help of instructors from Don Bosco Technical Institute, one of the country’s leading schools in machine operation, Tzu Chi aims to hone the new batch of trainees’ skills and speed in machining.
Continuing its mission to help less-privileged families lift themselves from poverty by equipping them with employable skills, Tzu Chi Foundation opened its Machine Operation Course to its second batch of students on May 23.
Like their predecessors, the 23 new students whose ages range from 21 to 49, will undergo two months of rigorous hands-on training in machining. Then they will be sent to various companies for a six-month on-the-job training. After which, they will undergo assessment by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in order to become licensed machinists.
Recognizing the need to train the students not only in the proper processes but also in speed, Tzu Chi enlisted the help of instructors from Don Bosco Technical Institute, one of the country’s leading schools in machine operation. Don Bosco’s system is focused less on lectures and more on hands-on training so the students develop expertise by the time they graduate. As majority of the students has no background in the industry, instructor Loven Delfin started his class by familiarizing them with the parts of the machine that they will operate, the tools that they will be using, and the importance of measuring accurately.
“I have to teach them the confidence to operate a machine so that they will be able to accomplish the job properly within the allotted time by the certification assessor. I will do my best to share everything I know about the industry to these students especially knowing that they came from the less-fortunate families and they really need help,” said Instructor Loven, who agreed to teach at a marked down professional fee.
A regular Machine Operation training in the Philippines costs more than Php40,000. For out-of-school youths like Aiclene Mendoza, Tzu Chi’s free training could be the ticket to changing her life. With transportation allowance, lunch and snacks, uniforms, notebooks and pens all provided for, 22-year-old Aiclene doesn’t have to worry about anything but to focus in learning the skill.
Aiclene’s father is crippled by a knee problem and could not earn a living so her mother takes in laundry to feed her and her younger brother. Once she finishes the course, she will be able to help with the family’s expenses.
“I am thankful that they opened a program like this. They are able to help many who cannot afford to pay the expensive tuition fees for this course,” Aiclene said.
Geoffrey Robles, 35, sees the program as a safety net. The book printing company he has been working for in the last eight years is currently struggling. Geoffrey expects it to close down and lose his job soon. Tzu Chi’s Machine Operation program opened just in time. Although he has no idea about machining, he is eager to learn for the sake of his three children.
“This is a good opportunity because they train you for free so that when you go out to find a job, you’re already skilled and know what to do,” he shared.
For Roselyn Pajarito, 49, the program is the chance to finally get back on track.
After her mother had a stroke in November 2013, Roselyn was forced to quit her job as a machinist. The single parent to three children had to depend on Tzu Chi’s rice and cash assistance to get by daily. When her mother passed away in 2014, Tzu Chi continued to support Roselyn and her children.
However, not wanting to fully rely on Tzu Chi’s help, she also worked as a helper at an eatery. As much as she wanted to go back to machining, she was worried that she might have forgotten how to do it. Tzu Chi’s free training was a refresher for her and made her hopeful again.
“There are many people who are in need. I think I am still healthy and strong enough to work and support my family that’s why I enrolled in this program so that I will be the one who will support my children in the future, not depend on Tzu Chi anymore, and help others who are also in need,” she said.
Apart from skills, Tzu Chi’s livelihood training program also includes values and character formation. Throughout their training, students will learn more about the teachings of Tzu Chi founder Master Cheng Yen such as discipline and the virtue of gratitude, respect, and love. All these are aimed at producing not only competent and productive citizens but also individuals with high moral values.