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If each of us takes part in caring and sharing, the overwhelming challenge of poverty can be addressed. Alone we can do so little, but together we can do so much.

Hope Journey
by Jamaica Marma Alcedo

One year after Haiyan, volunteers like Marma teach us that it's never about being old enough or good enough. At the heart of organizing a community is the passion to serve and be part of their hope journey out of poverty.

2013 was a turning point for me. It seemed that the crazy vibrant life in the city has lost its charm and I wanted to get away from it. Ever since, I never really expected myself to work all my life in the four corners of the corporate office. I am an outgoing person and always find myself going out of town whenever I get a chance. Parties and even my very active social life aren’t as appealing as before. I was lost. I wanted to find myself. So I decided to come back to Aklan. I left my job for 4 years and flew to Aklan the next day. Within a week, I was back to being a college student.

Everything was doing great. School kept me busy and I got to help out my mom with our small restaurant. Life was simple. Just the way I wanted it.

Then Typhoon Yolanda came. I saw how the strong wind tore down our small source of income. I also saw how it destroyed the front portion of our house where my room is. I have to be strong. It was only me and my mom at home and my mom was so scared. I can't imagine how she will manage if ever I was not here when Yolanda happened. For almost a month, we were just staying at our living room with no electricity. With God’s grace and help from relatives and friends, we were able to bounce back, though slowly, we were able to recover from the disaster.

It was March this year when GK came to our school. At first, I didn't have any idea what GK is about. All I know is that there is an overnight camp that will be held at our school. Since I am a sucker for camps, I presented myself to be one of the participants. I am no stranger to GK. My company where I previously worked has a GK village and I always wanted to volunteer but with my unusual schedule, I always missed the outreach. But with my own little way, I always gave portion of my salary to the program. So imagine my excitement when I knew it was GK. I was captured by the ideals of bleeding for a cause. I have been volunteering with different organizations/groups before and I was so glad to be able to help out my countrymen.

So this is where my journey with GK begins.

Before GK came, I already planned on volunteering for another group in Cebu that summer. But God has a better plan and wants me to help in my hometown. That was when our Supreme Student Government President invited me to accompany her to a meeting with GK at the Municipal hall. Since she was busy with a summer job, she gave me the task of being the youth coordinator of our school for the Bayani Challenge 2014.

I enjoyed being part of Bayani Challenge. I met a lot of people who were passionate in helping others. I also gained wonderful friends with different stories. I was inspired and it seemed like I wanted to do more. I fell in love with volunteering with GK. That was also the same time when Kuya Vincent asked me to help out in GK Fatima. The task was not easy. GK is building around 120 units in the village, which means there will be approximately 120 families that I have to work with. Truly a great challenge for a petite young student. How can I lead a community who is much older than I am?

But I never lost hope. It gives me joy to speak in front of the GK Kapitbahayan and together help them fulfill their dreams for their families. Because with GK, we only not give houses so they will have shelter, instead we give them life. A life where dreams becomes a reality. We give them a reason to live. And it gives me great joy to see the smiles of our KBs now having hope despite whatever challenges that comes their way.

Whatever road this may take me after, I am thankful that somehow, I found myself in the service of others. I am proud to be a GK volunteer.

GK New Washington in Brgy. Fatima, New Washington, Aklan, stands today because of the bayanihan of the typhoon survivors, volunteers, the local government, and partners like Thomson Reuters, Globe, Friends of the Philippines, Filipino American Association of Northeast Florida, The Women of Bel-Air Foundation, Church of Rye and others who generously gave towards Gawad Kalinga’s Haiyan Reconstruction Efforts.

But the work is far from over, and there are thousands more who need to be relocated to safe communities like this one. Find out how you can help #endpoverty today.

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