Each year, hundreds of thousands of Filipinos volunteer their time and skills to help make the world a better place by improving the lives of the people and the environment. The Philippines ranked 9th out of 125 countries with the highest number of people volunteering their time in proportion to its population, based on the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) World Giving Index 2019.
The Republic Act 9418 or the Volunteer Act of 2007 recognizes that volunteerism or “bayanihan” can be harnessed as a strategy for national development and international cooperation. The Act commits government to partnership to achieve the needed social transformation and sustainable development through volunteerism.
But over the last months, as the COVID 19 pandemic has ravaged across the world, community volunteers have been at the forefront of medical, community and societal responses. This has challenged the volunteers to step up to help their communities and give aid to where it was needed.
The COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan by the World Health Organization (WHO) identifies community volunteers as key stakeholders for risk communication and community engagement. This indicates the valuable and the great effort the volunteers are making during COVID-19. Yet, recognition is still not enough, especially when it comes to volunteers’ own well-being and access to health care.
The community volunteers are at the forefront of COVID-19 pandemic and current climate crisis, both should not and cannot be addressed in isolation, but through an effective collaboration of efforts from different fields and specializations towards ensuring the safety of the people.
This is an opportune time to find common ground and align efforts with similar actions to attain far greater impacts in pursuit of climate-smart and disaster-resilient Philippines, through volunteerism.