Over the past few weeks, we’ve repeatedly heard about the tragic events that followed after typhoon Sendong hit landfall on some parts of Mindanao on Dec. 16. There were people who lost their homes and their loved ones. But it’s always comforting to hear that there are those who never lose hope.
Helping hands continue to pour in and make the victims feel that “to hold on tight because tomorrow will turn out better” is indeed a better choice than to sulk and be miserable.
Perhaps the young people of the community were one of the most commendable force in mobilizing help for the typhoon victims. Armed with the ability to immediately inform and spread information, they used social networking sites and technology to their advantage. And it worked!
Their helping hand wasn’t limited to facing computers and using mobile phones, though. Some went beyond their comfort zone (skipping Christmas break) and away from the keyboard to help. The typhoon, after all, wasn’t just virtual. It was real.
The students of Xavier University (Ateneo de Cagayan) was one of the first to immediately drum up overwhelming help for the typhoon victims.
Student organizations in the university were strongly active in the relief operations: some were doing data banking tasks, others were out working on the field and distributing relief goods. Students also engaged in medical missions and managing XU’s evacuation center.
Their student publication The Crusader were ahead of other media outlets; while TV reporters scrambled to the flooded sites, the students then were already reporting live updates in their Facebook page.
“There is no better way to celebrate the Christmas season than to be men and women for others,” one of The Crusader’s Facebook posts read. They posted highly informative infographics, photos, and important lists (these include donors, evacuees, missing persons, areas to get free potable water, free medical services, benefit concerts, and items urgently needed by the victims). These were immediately reposted by Facebook users for others to see.
“As a student publication, we are bent on informing people, so that’s what we did. Using social media, we helped in letting the information out. We gathered information and made a series of infographics for easier sharing in the cyberspace,” Crusader editor in chief Ryan Louie Madrid said. “We were also tapped to help out in the communication and documentation group of the relief operation Xavier University immediately set up.”
Ready, get set, volunteer!
The spirit of volunteerism is equally alive in Davao City.
“It’s heartbreaking to know that several people would be spending their Christmas without their complete family and without their home,” Jubail Wee Pasia said.
She leads SAMAHAN (the student body of Ateneo de Davao University) in initiating a relief operation, which summoned a surprisingly high number of student volunteers, considering that many of them are already in their Christmas break.
Jubail said that this idea wasn’t new to them. They’ve done it before earlier this year when a flashflood severely hit an area in Davao City. And they were just as prepared.
Their relief operations started with a text brigade; they immediately received positive responses from student officers and school administrators. “We used social networks and had announcements regarding the operation during the Misa de Gallo held in the university,” Jubail said.
She noted that the bulk donations they gathered were really “overwhelming considering the three-day collection period.” On top of this, the university deployed over 200 student volunteers for a local TV station’s relief operation (ABS-CBN Davao’s Sagip Kapamilya).
In UP Mindanao, the organization of musicians called UP Mindanao AMPLI joined concerts for a cause. Members of the Omega Alpha fraternity and sorority volunteered with VSO Bahaginan, an international development agency.
Students from the University of Immaculate Conception forgot about their early Christmas break. Most of them spent some time in their Bonifacio campus to help gather and repack donations.
It’s always nice to see light at the end of the dark road. And seeing the initiatives of these young people in organizations, the light even gets brighter.