Being an OFW is hard. Every Filipino knows this. In fact, there’s a huge possibility that every Filipino family has a kin who has to fly miles away from home, somewhere across the seas, for better opportunities. This means that whether you’re an OFW yourself, or a child of one, more or less you know the struggle that OFWs face daily while they are far from everything they hold dear. Cristine, a Sales Associate in a luxury retail shop in Qatar can attest to this. But one of the things that keeps her going is her dream to live out her long-time advocacy: to support Filipino children back home.
Ever since her college days, Cristine has already been part of volunteer groups and outreach programs that support various marginalized sectors, especially children. That is why one of the things that she wanted to do after graduation was to continue finding opportunities to be of service. However, after graduation, just like every working adult in their early 20s, Cristine realized the challenges of reality and became aware of her environment’s limitations.
Soon, in search of better opportunities for her and her family, Cristine decided to leave home in 2017 to accept a job in Qatar. But true to her passion, despite her full-time schedule, she still joined a movement called the FRICH Revo, where they empower fellow OFW’s to be financially literate to help them manage their finances and secure their future. Then, when she was settled in her job, she realized that she still wanted to continue with her main advocacy. This gave birth to her campaign with BEAGIVER, called “Give Love, Give Joy, Give Kids Bag Full of Hope ''.
The campaign’s goal is to give school bags with raincoats to pupils whose families could not afford to buy them one. Having a school bag may seem like a simple thing, but Cristine knew that for kids who do not have bags, getting a brand new one can make them feel motivated and inspired.
Soon, after weeks of searching, Cristine found out about Langka Elementary School, a school located in one of the farthest and most remote areas in Nueva Ecija, where IP children live. The principal shared how most pupils in the school lacked basic school items especially during the peak of the pandemic when most families had to stay home and let go of their jobs.
Right then, Cristine knew that she had to start a campaign. Finally, after all her efforts and her family and friends’ support, Cristine finally completed her campaign, raising enough funds to give 102 school bags with raincoats to the pupils of Langka ES.
After over 5 years abroad, she went back home and visited the community herself last January 31, together with her loving family. She was welcomed by more than a hundred giddy kids, excited for their new gifts. Cristine would later recall how heartwarming it was to personally see the kids smile as they received their new bags. Some fiddled with their new bags’ multi-zippers and hidden pockets while the others already started wearing their raincoats just to try it on, even when the sun was high up in the sky.
Before the special day ended — as we watched the kids walk back home side by side, wearing their new backpacks, we went over to Cristine to have a little chat. She felt nostalgic and was overwhelmed with joy. When asked what her dream is for the children she said one thing, “for them to achieve their dreams and be who they want to become.”
Indeed, what makes Filipinos stand out wherever we are is not only our determination to be good at what we do. It is also the amount of love that each of us has in our hearts, the kind that overflows beyond ourselves and even beyond our families. It is as if we were born with the yearning to do something for our fellow Filipinos, just like Cristine.
Cristine is part of the BEAGIVER community, an organization whose goal is to cultivate the culture of generosity through different activities. If you are also interested in giving back to your community or inspiring children to dream, you may visit their website at www.beagiver.com.ph or contact them at email@example.com.
Here are some of the highlights of Cristine's bag drive last January 30 produced by BEAGIVER: