Tracing the steps of Project Pangarap- I Dare You to Dream
It started 5 years ago, when a group of SMU students decide to embark on a trip to the Philippines to witness the work of GK. Today, preparations for the 5th installment of Project Pangarap is underway and GK Manggahan-Kawayanan (GK-MK) will be welcoming fresh blood into their home this December.
“We were inspired. Now, we want to inspire too,” says Edgar Ang, 22, one of the leaders of Project Pangarap 2012 (PP12). Edgar joined Project Pangarap in 2011 as a team member and had an amazing experience in the village. To have the opportunity to return again as a leader, he hopes to share his experience with a new group of people, as well as to see the community with new eyes.
Edgar, middle, with Prince, left and Paulo, right, two of the children in GK-MK
It was not all smooth-sailing for Project Pangarap. In 2010, the team had prepared to visit a different village in Sorsogon that was located in the danger zone when a volcanic eruption occurred a week before their departure. With a twist of fate, the team got allocated to serve in GK-MK instead. “It was a test of flexibility,” says Tan Jia Hui, 21, a member of Project Pangarap 2010, “our fundraising plans, beneficiaries and location, and project objectives are but a few of the initial changes we had to quickly adjust to despite the short notice”.
Despite the hiccups, PP11 still saw the return of 6 of PP10’s members stepping up as part of the organizing committee. “It’s a commitment that needs to be consistently renewed and there are many people out there who deserve a better life and there is no poverty, there is only unequal distribution,” says Kok Yuling, 21, member of PP10 and leader of PP11. Our fellow volunteer friend poignantly captures the emphasis of sharing and caring within GK.
Yuling, right, with Mark from GK-MK
When asked to summarize their volunteering experience, Yuling says that “people who seemingly have so little can be contented with that and they have no qualms about sharingthat little (and all) that they have to make you feel welcome, which really taught me a lesson on how selfless giving can be.”
Jia Hui reflects, “Previously,I felt that the essence of community service is our selfless giving without expecting anything in return. However, I have come to realize that the community may also be giving back to us as well. While we may aspire to provide them with tangible objects such as food and manual labour, I became conscious that the community has given us so many intangibles in return, examples being the lessons we take away and their genuine hospitality. This experience has made me understand the importance of service-learning being a two-way relationship… When I see how little our hosts have, but how willing they are to share with us the best they possess, it makes me appreciate their generosity and sincerity even more.”
Team of Project Pangarap 2011
Edgar urges more youths to volunteer and serve society. “It is only right to return what you have been given,” he says.