Preparing a better community for the children

At the age of 20, Marilyn Dequilla has already decided to settle down and build a family of her own. Now at 23, though she and her husband have not been blessed with children yet, she is confident that she has done something today to better raise their would-be children.

For her, being exposed to the community has changed her perspective as to how she’ll raise her children in the future.

Marilyn, a resident of Brgy. Pinagtubigan Weste in Perez, Quezon Province, is a community volunteer of the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS). She is one of the residents who worked on the construction of the Kalahi-CIDSS day care center sub-project in their community.

The Kalahi-CIDSS is a poverty reduction program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) that uses the community-driven development strategy in implementing need-responsive projects in poor communities. Residents or community volunteers like Marilyn are involved in the development process and trained on proposal development, construction estimates and community finance and procurement to help them manage the implementation of their sub-project.

According to her, though she is happily married and is contented with her work as a barangay health worker and her husband as a farmer, she felt she is still responsible to work towards the development of the community where they belong.

“Ano ba naman yung minsan magsakripisyo ka para sa ikauunlad ng lugar ninyo. Masaya rin naman kapag alam mong maraming makikinabang sa mga pinaghirapan mo,” Marilyn said.

A high school graduate, Marilyn shared that she was nervous at first to work on such big project. But her willingness to serve the community pursued, thus she grabbed the chance.

“Tiwala naman ako na hindi kami pababayaan ng mga staff ng Kalahi at tuturuan kami ng husto para masagawa namin nang maayos ‘yung gusto naming proyekto,” shared Marilyn.

Working for the children and the community

Marilyn was elected as head of the procurement team for their day care center sub-project. According to her, the canvassing of construction materials and school furniture is a difficult task as they went to several hardware shops from one barangay to the other to look for affordable yet quality materials.

Other volunteers, on the other hand, were assigned on the construction of the day care center. They get paid for a five-day labor and then they offer their sixth day of their work for free. This is their way of helping cut the project cost to invest for additional materials such as chairs and cabinets.

In a span of three months, from November 2014 until February this year, the community volunteers have finished constructing the day care center. This school year, they have given three to five years old children in their community a permanent place to start learning and realizing their dreams.

“Dati po kasi ay sa bahay nayon (barangay hall) lang kami nagkaklase. Masikip at mainit. Ngayon, mas komportable na ang mga bata sa sarili nilang day care center,” said Agapita Ocaña, 52, the day care worker in the barangay.

A total of 20 pupils are using the Kalahi-CIDSS-constructed day care center this present school year.

Moreover, the day care center was used last June for the Mother Class, an activity of the barangay health workers where new mothers are taught on proper nutrition and breastfeeding. Also a barangay health worker, Marilyn is glad that they were able to use the sub-project that she and the other community volunteers worked hard for.

“Masayang makita na nagawa namin nang maganda ang day care at nagampanan namin ang obligasyon namin dito. Alam naming nagamit ang pondo sa tama kasi nakikikita namin na napapakinabangan ito ng mga tao,” shared Marilyn.

The day care center, with a total project cost of PhP799,856, was funded by one of the Kalahi-CIDSS’ development partners—the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) of the Australian Government. The DFAT focuses its projects in areas with significant gaps in education to give children improved access to basic education services.

The value of volunteering

This 2015, the community volunteers in Brgy. Pinagtubigan Weste implemented another sub-project under the Kalahi-CIDSS program. They decided to repair their barangay hall where Marilyn was given another chance to volunteer again.

They have finished repairing the barangay hall last June with a total project cost of PhP563,581. Aside from the daily operations of the barangay council in the hall, it will also serve as a permanent evacuation center of the community in times of disasters.

“Bukod sa mga natutunan ko, isa pang bagay na naiuwi ko mula sa Kalahi ay ang mga kaibigan. Nagkaroon ako ng pagkakataon na makihalubilo sa iba’t ibang tao. Ngayon, may mga tao na akong nakakakwentuhan ng mga saya at problema sa buhay-buhay,” shared Marilyn with a smile.

With all her experiences as a community volunteer, Marilyn realized that in building a good family, she must also work towards making their community a pleasant and peaceful place to live in. Seeing her community now, she finds great satisfaction that her would-be children can experience a better life in their community. For this, she will be forever thankful.###