Brothers Rodolfo and Rusty Tolitol are two of Tzu Chi Foundation’s first batch of Machine Operation Course students. Both are inspired to become expert machinists in order to support their families better.
Behind the determination of Tzu Chi Foundation’s 22 Machine Operation Course students to learn and become experts in machining is their families.
With two children to raise, Rodolfo Tolitol, 25, is hoping that the course will help him find a more stable job. For the past years, the most he landed were contractual employments that end after six months such as sales and baggage counter clerk, money sorter, and office administration staff, among others. In November 2017, he just finished yet another contract when Tzu Chi opened the training program on machine operation. Rodolfo did not think twice about enrolling.
“If I finish this course, more opportunities will be waiting for me. I will be more competent and skilled not only for jobs locally but also internationally,” he says.
Rodolfo is also thankful that the training is free and Tzu Chi also provides their daily transportation allowance, uniforms, lunch, and snacks so that the students can focus on their lessons.
Apart from technical knowledge and skills, the course’s curriculum includes values formation lectures from Tzu Chi volunteers that guide the students to have the right attitude towards life and work.
From these lessons, Rodolfo’s younger brother and fellow student 24-year-old Rusty learned that he can rise above his own limitations with faith in himself and a little help from the people around him.
Rusty suffers from involuntary body movements, which initially bothered his professor and classmates. Whenever it would be his turn to operate the machine during their hands-on lessons, everyone would look out for him, worried that he might meet an accident.
But Rusty had an admirable focus and will to learn. “After class, I would rest a bit and then go back to reviewing our lessons,” he shares.
As a result of his diligence, Rusty was the second fastest to finish the hands-on examination and pass the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA)’s assessment for machine operation. The college undergraduate who spent the past eight years working as crew in various fast food chains is now a skilled machinist.
“Just like how Tzu Chi recycles trash [through its environmental protection advocacy], I was also recycled. My soul, my heart, my personality was recycled from being unproductive to useful,” Rusty muses.
With the improvement on the Tolitol brothers, there is probably no other person happier than their mother, Raquel, 47.
“Having my two sons luckily enrolled in the Machine Operation Course is such a big help especially to my eldest son who has his own family to support already. He should be his family's provider. Then there's my second eldest son, Rusty, whom I am counting on to help me and his youngest brother with our maintenance medicines,” Raquel shares.
Raquel has diabetes and needs regular insulin shots. Meanwhile, her youngest son Raymond suffers from the same condition as Rusty. However, Raymond’s situation grew more severe after a vehicular accident in 2017. His doctor had put him under medications to calm him down. But the medicines are quite expensive.
Presently, Tzu Chi Foundation is supporting some of Raymond’s medicines under the organization’s Long-Term Care Assistance Program. Once he finds a job as a machinist and starts earning better, Rusty will shoulder his mother and brother’s medications so they won’t have to depend on Tzu Chi anymore.
As for Rodolfo, once he has settled into a more stable job, his plan is to pay forward the help.
“I want to give back Tzu Chi’s help. They gave me the opportunity to learn this skill so I want to help by becoming a donor to benefit the future batches of the Machine Operation Course. I also want to volunteer in Tzu Chi’s other charity activities because I see how Tzu Chi volunteers don’t get anything from doing these things yet they are still happy,” Rodolfo ends.