Tintin Vera’s Experience with GK

“We don’t accomplish anything in this world alone … and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one’s life and all the weavings of individual threads from one to another that creates something.” – Sandra Day O’Connor

Last July 15, 2006, the World Youth Alliance, together with Gawad Kalinga, launched its Viviamo! project at the Gawad Castaneda Village. It was a day filled with fun games, food and of course, work. Working together promoted a spirit of team work among the volunteers but the event was not all just hard work and building, it was about the fun found in the bonding, the eating, and the games. There were many volunteers from different organizations and schools, as well as the people from the community itself. I was one of the volunteers for World Youth Alliance. I went to the site with a lot of apprehension since I was excited to meet and work with new people. Since we were all relatively new, the ice needed to break. We were uncomfortable at first but then after a few activities such as Paint Me a Picture, we all warmed up and made new friends.

The main part of the event was the building itself. Initially, we were assigned tasks. The men given the “heavier” work such as cement mixing and carrying of hollow blocks, while the ladies were assigned to paint the houses. The people from the Gawad Castaneda Village were happy to see us and eagerly helped out. You can see everyone working alongside with one another, i.e. painting one wall, passing hollow blocks to one another. Even the little children were willingly painting with us. I could not help but notice the big smiles on their faces as they were watching us paint their houses. Oftentimes they would remark how lovely the color is and how beautiful their houses will be when we are through. Others even offered to tour us inside their houses. It was amazing to see that they are really dedicated since some of them designed and built their houses themselves. That and the genuine happiness from the community members made the event truly worthwhile and gave each one of us indescribable rewards.

Each day we are interacting with different people, and somehow, we are also imparting something to them, and vise versa. It is true that we do not accomplish anything in this world alone. The beauty of this life can be found in the relationships we have established with a lot of people. And at the end of the day, it is these relationships that count the most. It does not matter whether or not we painted the walls and ceilings properly, mixed the cement and piled up hollow blocks accordingly. In spite of our paint-splattered shoes, clothes and cement-smeared faces, we are still happy because we know that even in our little ways we shared our happiness with the people.

Tin Vera is an extern at WYA Asia Pacific. She is student at the Ateneo de Manila University.