Let’s face it, a person has his/her own reason for doing anything. My reasons for wanting to help out the people affected by the typhoon were (1) guilt, because while people were swimming in floodwater or trying to get their kids on the roof of the house while their property was being washed away, I was safe and dry in my third floor apartment fending off boredom with tv and food; and (2) empathy, because during typhoon Ruping in 1990 in Cebu, the wind blew off the roof of our house.
However, as I am a practical kind of girl, I now bring you seven practical reasons for helping our fellowmen and women who suffered because of typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng.
- It becomes personal.
Volunteering isn’t the only way to help. We’re grateful to everyone here and abroad who sent money to buy food and clothes and support rescue operations to help the typhoon victims. However, when you’re actually there sorting the donated clothes and blankets, and distributing food and water to the affected families, you are able to put a face on the issue. When you hand rice to someone in need, you are reminded why you’ve given up part of your savings to give to this cause.
- You get a good workout.
I first went to Ateneo at Katipunan. OK, so I may have overdone it, I admit. I was surrounded with young college kids, and I wanted to pull my own weight. So when moving relief bags around, I picked up as many as I saw the guys would at a time. Same thing when I went with the first area distribution trip. I was sore for three days afterwards. And not just in my arms! My legs hurt. I was actually more sore from the relief work than I usually am after the gym. You can be sure I skipped the gym for the rest of the week, and just volunteered for relief work instead. You get free workouts AND you get to help people. Everyone wins.
- You have something to write about in your blog, facebook, twitter, etc.
When was the last time you volunteered for charity? Blogging or tweeting about your experience will make a refreshing change from your usual online posts about work, vacations and the last movie you saw. As evidenced by my new spam Twitter followers, and the jerks who abuse the Ondoy and Pepeng hashtags to sell their products, people do like to read about this kind of thing.
- You can use up your vacation days for a good cause.
As one blogger explains it, it may not be very cost-effective to skip work just so you can help with the relief efforts. However, if you have any vacation days that are non-convertible to cash, why not give those days to help the typhoon victims? You may get to visit new places and people will occasionally take pictures of you. See? Just like a vacation.
- You get to meet new people.
If you’re the sociable type who’s always itching to meet new people, or you’re in a rut and need to give your social life a boost, this will give you an opportunity to meet nice new folks who are clearly socially conscious and don’t mind lending a hand to those who need it. Who doesn’t need more friends like those, right?
I’ll be straight with you. Relief work is exactly what it’s called — work. You can take a break anytime, of course, because you’re there of your own free will and no one’s paying you, but everyone works so hard, you won’t want to slack off. There are sacks of rice to move from truck to warehouses, canned goods to pack in individual cans, clothes to sort. However, everyone’s in such a good mood, because knowing that what you’re doing is helping people in dire need kind of brings a cheerfulness in everyone involved. In all the places where operations were ongoing, I never saw a single sad or grumpy person. Everyone was smiling and in a good mood.
If volunteering to help typhoon victims is fun, think of how much more enjoyable it is if you do it with your friends. I’ve gone to relief operations by myself and I’ve gone with friends, and going with friends definitely amps up the fun factor. You know how they say whistling while you work makes the task easier? Well, chatting and joking with your pals while you work makes it seem like the task just does itself. One moment you’re sitting among boxes of canned goods and noodles, next thing you know, they’re all in bags ready for distribution. All while you were discussing Dawkins’ latest book and planning the next FF advocacy project.
It’s been about a week since Pepeng first hit, and although a lot of us here in Metro Manila have started to recover and rebuild, there are still many more Filipinos in the northern provinces who are stranded and cold and hungry. Relief operations are still ongoing, so please contribute whatever time and resources you can.