When I applied for Global Xchange, the thoughts I had in mind were learning, fun, travel, opportunities, career jump-start, selfish aims for myself. True enough that GX has everything to offer. But GX does not only ends with giving us allowances, budget for activities and implementing rules and platform for a successful programme. GX has totally changed my life and changed my views and perceptions about issues concerning the humanity.
Every activity and experiences I had is an eye opener for me especially our GCDs on interpretations of poverty, poverty and inequality and poverty in Mindanao. It made me understand how societal problems are connected to each other and that poverty is the root cause. Those topics along with other GCDs made me become aware about a lot of things which I do not know before. It made me value the things which I did not care before.
All my life, I’ve never experienced something like this where at the end of the day I just stay quite as I internalize and reflect on various realities. It breaks my heart to know how some people live in wealth and luxury while others can’t even eat a single bread in a day. While other people lay peacefully in their bed at night, some people cannot sleep worrying if they could still witness another sunrise. While others live in fame and admiration, some are wounded by discrimination. While some do not know the meaning of education and do not value it, others walk miles away each day to be able to finish even just primary. These realities are some things that I didn’t only learn from theory. It is something that I’ve witnessed and experienced first hand.
Since the start of GX, I have come to meet new acquaintances, experienced new things and gained new knowledge. I’ve earned it for the past 6 months of the exchange. But one single moment before GX ends, something was added on the list.
We were evacuated two weeks before debrief from Iligan City due to the conflict between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Since we cannot work with our work placement, we tried to help in the relief operations for the victims. We also allotted one day to meet the members of the government panel who were involved in the controversial Memorandum of Agreement between the government and MILF which is the cause of the present war. This gave us wider understanding of the history of our country and the historical bloody conflict between the two parties.
Although the main cause is self determination among the Muslim Filipinos, I’m quite certain that poverty is still one of the great causes. But the speakers and efforts of Balay Mindanao Foundation Inc. taught me how to be a part of the solution and contribute to the country’s battle against poverty and war. Learning and realizations would not suffice without action. I was reminded of those people from our work placements and few individuals that I’ve met who gave their life in the service of our countrymen to promote lasting peace and development. The determination and encouragement implanted by these people is something that I haven’t learned from school. It is through immersion and involvement that I got to feel what it’s like to be an ambassador of social change.
I may be just one volunteer who aspires to do something in this troubled world, but I believe it only takes one seed to produce bountiful fruits.