By Noelle Grace Petel

Members of peace organizations, educational institutions, and volunteer groups convened during the special Pakighinabi (Conversation) on volunteerism for education and peacebuilding slated at the Pakighinabi Conference Room, Community Center of the First Companions last May 30.

The Pakighinabi aimed to characterize the breadth and depth of volunteerism through perspectives of individual volunteers, volunteer-sending organizations, and recipient institutions and communities.

Stakeholders highlighted the social, cultural and economic contributions of volunteerism to the promotion of quality education and peacebuilding. Experiences, sentiments, and learnings were freely shared during the conference.

Participating organizations include the National Association of Bangsamoro Education Inc., Catholic Education Association of the Philippines, Jesuit Volunteer Philippines, and Ateneo de Davao University. Representing Ateneo de Davao were volunteers from the Madaris Volunteer Program (MVP), Athletics Department, Al Qalam Institute for Islamic Identities and Dialogue in Southeast Asia, and the Cardoner Program.

Michael Geroche, an MVP volunteer, said that volunteerism encompasses the whole-hearted rendering of service for others without expectations of material benefits.

“Volunteerism plays a vital role in nation-building … [it has] a significant impact on both the volunteers and the communities being served,” Geroche added.

Mussolini Lidasan, Al Qalam director, shared that volunteerism for Muslims is a form of charity.

“It is sadaqah (charity), which means that it is a gift not for anyone but for yourself so that in the hereafter, Allah subhanawata’allah (Allah, Glory to Him, the Exalted) will recognize [that gift] on the Day of Judgement,” Lidasan stated. Lidasan is a United Nations Volunteer.

To Pauline Delgado, an MVP volunteer, “The great thing about being involved in volunteerism is that the resource you share with the community is not material … not monetary. It’s ourselves—a resource that is alive.”

University Athletics Director Emmanuel Rene Ayo encouraged the volunteers to embrace the experience with an open and reflective heart. He challenged volunteers to be ready to learn and to be changed.

The event ended with an appreciation ceremony for the volunteers who received send-off tokens. The Cardoner Volunteers will be heading for Taunggyi, Myanmar, and the Madaris Volunteers will be working in the Bangsamoro areas.

The Pakighinabi Conversation Series is designed to provide members of the University community a platform to discuss multidisciplinary issues and concerns in an open and friendly manner. It is a project of the Office of the University President.


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