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Ormoc’s Yolanda survivors give back

April 07, 2018 | Jamaica Digo

For every peso they give, the family of Aileen Arabis offers a little prayer. They hope that their donation will go a long way in helping another family in need. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

Story Highlights

  • Ninety-five percent of the families residing at the Great Love Village in Barangay Lilo-an, Ormoc City are now donating members of Tzu Chi Foundation. Every member of their families set aside at least a peso daily for charity.

 

Life is far from easy or comfortable for Aileen Arabis, 32. The profit that her small sari-sari store makes and her husband’s income from driving a tricycle are often just enough to feed their two children. Still, it did not stop Arabis from extending help to others in need.

On April 7, Arabis handed over the contents of her green Tzu Chi coin bank to the organization’s volunteers. It contained Php120. For a family like them, saving such amount for charity had not been easy to achieve, yet Arabis managed to do so.

“If we were unable to drop into the coin can our due for the day, we double it the next,” explained Arabis. “Also, whenever I have spare money, I would set them aside. There are days when we don’t have a single cent to put into the coin bank. That’s when those money we had saved come useful.”

A few houses down Arabis’ block, Rebecca Arbilon was standing by her door watching Tzu Chi volunteers go from one home to another. One of the volunteers explained to her that many of her neighbors are now regular donating members of Tzu Chi.

At the New Year’s Blessing ceremony Tzu Chi Foundation had organized for the residents of Great Love Village in Barangay Lilo-an, Ormoc in February 2018, majority of the attendees signed up to become monthly donors.

Arbilon, however, was unable to attend the event as she had to be at the hospital to look after her husband, who has been suffering from kidney disease for four years now. Still, it was not too late for Arbilon. Before the volunteers went on their way, Arbilon signed a donation form and pledged to start donating again.

A year ago, before her husband’s condition deteriorated, Arbilon was diligently saving a peso daily in an empty plastic bottle for the needy. “I want to start donating again,” said the 50-year-old Arbilon. “Although I am also in need, I want to share what I can to others.”

Such goodwill was echoed by Fernando Cabacoy, 40. All five members of his family – especially his little children – have made it a habit to set aside a peso every day for the families who are less-fortunate than them. According to Cabacoy, the practice gives them a profound sense of fulfillment. “It feels good to be able to help others,” he added.

In 59-year-old Marina Flauta’s case, giving is her way of expressing gratitude. Aside from the Php150 monthly donation her family had pledged to give, Flauta handed an additional Php1,050 to the volunteers. “This is 10% of our profit from selling our root crops,” she explained. “We are very thankful to Tzu Chi for giving us a decent house to live in.”

The Flauta family lived as informal settlers at Ormoc’s town proper before Super Typhoon Yolanda struck in 2013 and left them homeless. A year after the calamity, Tzu Chi put up the Great Love Village. Presently, it is home to over 1,000 Yolanda-displaced families.

Seeing the eagerness of the residents to give overwhelmed Tzu Chi volunteer Michael Siao. Almost 95% of the families residing at the Great Love Village have followed-through with their donation pledges.

However, Siao emphasized that more than the amount each person can give, what Tzu Chi hopes to solicit is their loving hearts. “The important thing here is to nurture kindness in their hearts so that goodness will spread throughout the community and mitigate disasters,” he added.

  • Michael Siao announces the groupings among the volunteers who will conduct house-to-house donation collection at the Great Love Village in Ormoc. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Michael Siao assigns the volunteers to their respective areas. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Tzu Chi volunteers march to their respective area assignments inside the Great Love Village in Ormoc. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Rain poured when the volunteers began their rounds. Despite this, they braved the downpour and invited new villagers to become Tzu Chi donating members. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Volunteers manually count the donations before putting ion record. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Tzu Chi volunteer Michael Siao informs Rebecca Arbilon that many of her neighbors have committed to donate monthly to help the needy. Moved, Arbilon also signed up to become a regular donor. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Fernando Cabacoy’s entire family save a peso daily to help the needy. He says giving brings them a sense of fulfilment. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • In addition to her monthly donation, Marina Flauta hands the Tzu Chi volunteers an envelope containing the 10% of her recent profit from selling root crops. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Tzu Chi volunteers gather to count the donations they have collected. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】