“We are always ready to help, as the Tzu Chi Foundation, they never hesitated to help us in our time of need. We will always be willing to help and always volunteer for the Tzu Chi Foundation,” Tzu Chi volunteer Eva Valois spearheads the team of volunteers weathering through the storm. Sweat aside, the ingress of pamphlets and other materials for the recycling activity has marred their uniforms with mud.
A rainy All Saints Day has welcomed the Tzu Chi volunteers of Barangay Tumana, Marikina City at the Manila Chinese Cemetery. They gather once again for the annual recycling activity of Tzu Chi Philippines in cemeteries all over Metro Manila and some parts of Rizal and Leyte.
Nevertheless, Valois says they’re now used to this weather. “It’s been raining here at the Chinese Cemetery as we set up our station, and now you see it is flooded. It’s only this year that we have to endure this kind of weather.”
She also emphasized how they spent the night at the cemetery. Instead of foldable beds, they improvised chairs and tarpaulin as beds.
Despite the heavy rain, the volunteers manage to do their rounds in between tombs, slippery tracks, narrow streets and such. Raincoats and boots protect them from the inclement weather. They’re limited to until 7:00 p.m., however, as the cemetery gets too dark in most spots.
Meanwhile, Tzu Chi volunteer Marcos Agda felt anxious while doing his task. The heavy rain reminded him of Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) nearly wiped out Marikina.
“The worst experience I’ve ever had was when Typhoon ‘Ondoy’ Ketsana struck Marikina City. So every time we know it’s raining we are very vigilant for anything to happen,” says Agda, who further recalls being stranded in his home’s roof for four days with his brother as people around him perished.
However, even when he feels disturbed, he focuses on his task efficiently.
The rain never missed a chance to be a burden to the volunteers who barely complained. In fact, they were more worried about this year’s volume of recyclables because of the scarcity of visitors to the cemetery.
Luckily, there are good-willed people who voluntarily donate their recyclables. “There will be times when the owner of a mausoleum approaches us to donate their recyclables,” states Valois.
Indeed, these volunteers are really grateful. Not only does the foundation helps them become role models in society but also inspire people to do the same thing.
“Tzu Chi has helped millions of people, especially the needy. They’ve taught us very good values for our families. I’ve learned to be contented with what I have and when you have blessings, you should also share it with others,” testified Tzu Chi volunteer Evangeline Balwit.
Hand in hand and under drizzle, the volunteers fulfill their part in Tzu Chi’s mission with gusto.
Tzu Chi volunteer Evangeline Balwit clears the ground of floodwater as her fellow volunteers set up their station. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】
Tzu Chi volunteer Marcos Agda prepares the bags of PET bottles for pickup. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigidgan】
Tzu Chi volunteer Marcos Agda picks up recyclable materials around the cemetery. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】
Tzu Chi volunteer Evangeline Balwit transfers her gathered recyclables in a basket for sorting. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】