Thursday, May 22, 2014

On Being A Volunteer: A Test of Passion

Written by Jane Alcomendras
University of San Carlos, Cebu (Alumna), Batch K4

I'm Jane G. Alcomendras, a registered nurse and a proud volunteer youth leader for health. Last 2010, it was my second year of serving the Student Body of the College of Nursing in the University of San Carlos-Talamban Campus. It was also my first year to be part of the Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health (VYLH)-Philippines. At that time, I was so pleased to be invited to attend the VYLH-Philippines Visayas Island-Wide Camp because out of the entire studentry of the University – I was one of the two who were given the opportunity to attend the said camp.

As a delegate, I was reluctant at first and I was not so into talking that much. Fortunately, my teammates were euphoric while the facilitators and advisers were jaunty and convivial. I really can’t help myself but to go with the tide. And from there, the organization brought me out from my shell and it had a lot to do with who and where I am today.



Experiences, Insights and Sacrifices

First, as a student leader who is vying to be one of the Top Outstanding Leaders in the University, it wouldn’t be possible for me to be nominated and make my walk up to the stage without having VYLH-Philippines as one of my extra-curricular activities/organizations.

Second, in my previous profession as Public Health Nurse, I can really say that I’ve been a very productive as a volunteer youth leader (VYL) and advocate of the VYLH-Philippines’s advocacies- NBS awareness, Folic Acid Supplementation campaign and support for rare disease patients. I believe my previous job provided an avenue for the advocacy since the community-based setting allowed me to deal with people from all walks of life.  I was also even requested to take part in the Local Health Board meeting together with the city officials and other department heads to speak about the importance of having newborn screening in our city hospital and BEMONC (Basic Emergency Obstetrics and Newborn Care) facility. Though being a public health nurse requires a lot of work to do (e.g. paper works, reporting, etc.) and I’m an hour and a half away from Cebu City, I really manage my time to attend or get involve with the activities locally organized by the network and its partners such as the Reunion of Saved Babies, Family Forum for Children with Rare Disorders and the like, because I care and I love the things I that do. I even let my peers and co-employees get involved with our advocacies. My experiences with VYLH-Philippines and with other organizations also became instrumental for me to get invitations to be a resource speaker with regard to health and safety. I also got invited to be a facilitator in a team building of one of the biggest company in Mandaue City. These made me believed that “experience is really a great teacher”.

So much with the achievements, let me say that being in this organization is so horrible- it made me cry twice. The first time was during the K4 camp when they announced that I can no longer continue being in the group because of the “what I did last night” incident while the second time was when I decided to stop from my work just to attend the Third National Congress last November 2013. So ironic isn’t it? 

But here’s the story behind those epic scenes. The first scene is a VYLH-Philippines’ tradition – it’s for you to know and for me to find out, while the second happened when I had my brief call center experience. Unfortunately, the company won’t allow me to take a leave because I’m still on the training phase. To end my dilemma, I decided to quit and join the Congress. It’s just a matter of choice and I chose to be with my VYLH-Philippines family. These are the reasons why it’s horrible being in this organization- horribly amazing, horribly exciting, and horribly worth keeping.

On staying and passing the torch

I can still remember during the Third National Congress when we had our games and sharing sessions, one fellow VYL asked me, “Jane, if VYLH would be the answer, what would be the question?” and without second thought, I was able to say “Bakit ako nandito?” (Why am I here?) . And yes, that was perfectly my very honest answer because of the experience I had before the congress. 

I don’t know why I got stuck with this organization- I don’t get paid. I just give IEC materials to people and promote our advocacies. There are times when I even spent money for my transportation whenever I go to the city to attend network’s events - but I just can’t resist it. I love the things I do in this organization. That’s why I am called a volunteer – I do things in my free will. I am doing things without coercion.

Now that I am one of the elders in the group, I am now passing the challenge to you guys- to be the salt and light for a healthier nation, and to keep the fire burning.

So, this is my story with VYLH-Philippines. What’s yours?

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Jane G. Alcomendras is a Registered Nurse and alumna of the University of San Carlos – Talamban Campus. She became a member of VYLH-Philippines after joining the Visayas Island-wide Camp which is one of the K4 Camps in 2010. At present, Jane is an Executive/Company Nurse at Mastercraft Philippines, Inc.



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