Photo from KALAHI-CIDSS

The Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS) program, which falls under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and aims to reduce poverty, has recently collected examples of compassionate actions that have had a meaningful impact on the lives of others.

KALAHI-CIDSS describe them as “small acts of kindness” that can “brighten someone’s day, change their outlook, and even inspire them to pay it forward.”

The accounts commence with the experiences of Maricon Daraga, an area coordinator assigned in Bataraza, and Genesis Roco, a community empowerment facilitator assigned in Aborlan. Both municipalities are situated in Southern Palawan.

Born out of love
Maricon shared that in 2022 when she was still assigned in Araceli, she had an early delivery when she was in the midst of filing paperwork and carrying out a KALAHI-CIDSS project. The weight of grief and worry had been crushing her after the traumatic loss of her child, and she feared that her project would suffer delays due to her absence.

“It was a traumatic experience because my child did not survive,” she said. “Despite my grief, I still thought about my work and the potential delays in the project implementation.”

However, a glimmer of hope shone through the darkness when she heard that their technical facilitator and municipal financial analyst in Araceli had taken charge of the team, inspiring them all to work tirelessly towards a common goal. This act of kindness and selflessness brought tears to her and warmed her heart, giving her the strength to face the challenges ahead.

“The barangay treasurer of Calandagan provided assistance to my family when she learned that I was on leave without pay while recovering. Barangay Tinintinan staff and officials also sent their prayers and words of encouragement,” she said.

Maricon also appreciated that the mayor of Araceli, Sue Cudilla, also sent her a message of support, wishing her the strength to overcome the challenges that came her way.

“I will never forget the town of Araceli, and I am forever grateful to all the people who supported me during my lowest time,” she said.

KALAHI-CIDSS said Maricon’s story is a powerful reminder of the importance of compassion, empathy, and kindness in the workplace and in life in general. Her colleagues’ actions, especially the technical facilitator and municipal financial analyst who stepped up to take charge of the team, demonstrate how a simple act of selflessness can have a profound impact on others.

Weather the storm
Next is Genesis’ story that happened when Typhoon Odette ripped through Palawan in December 2021. At the time, he was assigned in Brgy. New Canipo, San Vicente, and was stranded with three other KALAHI-CIDSS staff.

He narrated that the powerful winds from the typhoon knocked off the houses, cut the electricity, and rapidly depleted the essential supplies in the town.

“Without a second thought, barangay captain Renan Failon, and the local community volunteers brought us to their relocation site, providing us with food and shelter for two days. They even ensured that the roads were clear and safe before allowing us to leave,” he said.

Genesis said the experience taught him the value of building genuine relationships with the people he worked with. “When you put your heart into what you do, people will trust and support you in times of need. It motivates me to continue serving with gratitude and kindness and always strive to assure that our partners at the municipal and barangay level would feel our sincerity for their community.”

KALAHI-CIDSS believes that Genesis’ story is an inspiring example of the importance of building genuine relationships and connections with the people we work with, especially in times of need. It shows that by putting our hearts into our work and serving with gratitude and kindness, we can earn the trust and support of the communities we work with.

Fishbone
Renato Mandrique Jr., area coordinator in Alcantara, Romblon, will never forget the kindness and generosity of strangers who went out of their way to help him when he underwent a surgery to remove a fishbone lodged in his throat.

He said that despite being alone and far from home, he was touched by the assistance provided by his community empowerment facilitator, the Malasakit Center, and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP). This experience showed him that people are innately good, and there are still kind-hearted individuals who are willing to lend a helping hand, even to strangers in need.

Photo from KALAHI-CIDSS

“As I opened my eyes, I was momentarily blinded by the bright lights surrounding me. Confused and disoriented, I thought I had passed away. But, as I lifted my head, I quickly realized that I was in a hospital and restrained to the bed. It was my first time in an operating room, where I underwent a surgical procedure to remove a fishbone lodged deeply in my throat,” he said.

“Being newly deployed in Romblon, I was alone with no family or friends nearby to offer me any assistance. Gladly, my community empowerment facilitator came to visit me and helped me with the necessary paperwork for my hospital bills. She brought me to the Malasakit Center, which covered all of my medical expenses,” added Renato.

The BFP in the municipality of Alcantara coordinated with the Rural Health Unit (RHU) to immediately pick up Renato and arranged for an ambulance from the LGU since the hospital was located in another town and it was already late at night. After his return, the BFP gave him a warm welcome and treated him to a late dinner.

“This experience taught me that even when I am far from home, there are still kind-hearted people who are willing to offer their help and support for free. It reminded me that people are innately good, and kindness and generosity know no boundaries,” he said.

To the rescue
KALAHI-CIDSS stated that the story of Rosalyn Camus, a community empowerment facilitator from Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro, underscores the significance of establishing relationships with residents in the communities they serve.

“While conducting one of our KALAHI-CIDSS activities, I suddenly felt dizzy and began to vomit. The barangay officials and community volunteers quickly came to my aid and took me to the health center to rest,” Rosalyn narrated.

An hour later, she was taken to the town’s health office to guarantee her safety, and the barangay officials also accompanied her on her way home.

“Until now, I can still vividly remember that moment. I can see the concerned faces of those who helped me. It was truly touching because aside from my family, I felt the care and love from the community that I serve,” she said.

No one showed up
In Lubang, Occidental Mindoro area coordinator Teejay Alcantara’s narrative, KALAHI-CIDSS said the most important lesson is that even when it seems like no one is noticing or appreciating a person’s hard work, there are always people who do see and value efforts.

On a Wednesday, Teejay’s schedule was packed with meetings in five barangays to ensure the timely completion of KALAHI-CIDSS project requirements. Following a long day of traveling and continuous discussions to resolve problems, he became both physically and mentally fatigued.

“Worse, when I arrived at the last barangay, I could no longer hold back my tears. I was disheartened to find out that no one showed up except for one barangay councilor,” Teejay said. He was heartbroken as despite his eagerness to help and the sacrifices in the past few months, he felt invisible and inadequate for the job.

He held himself responsible for the situation, and the only person who comforted him was the barangay councilor who acknowledged his efforts and initiatives. Later, the councilor took an extra step to call upon the residents to join the meeting.

“This made me realize that there are people who see and appreciate the work that we do. They are the ones who truly trust us and our capabilities, and it encourages me to be more patient and proactive, especially as a public servant in a government office. Now, that barangay is one of the most active in the program,” Teejay said.

Surprise meal
The inspiration that can be gleaned from this story of Calatrava, Romblon area coordinator Mechelle dela Torre, according to KALAHI-CIDSS, is the importance of perseverance and dedication in achieving goals, despite the challenges and obstacles that may come one’s way.

After delivering her baby via cesarean section, Mechelle received medical advice to avoid engaging in physically strenuous activities that could cause the reopening and bleeding of her stitches. However, she still proceeded to do site validation in an area that required hiking to different households.

During their return journey to the jump-off point where they parked their motorcycles, she began to feel the physical toll of the activity. She experienced discomfort, shaking in her knees, as well as hunger and thirst.

“Eventually, I rode my motorcycle to the barangay hall, but my body gave up and I fell off along the way. Fortunately, it was a minor accident, and I was able to continue,” narrated Mechelle. “Upon arriving at the Brgy. Hall of Mahabang Baybay, San Agustin, Romblon, I was overwhelmed with relief and emotion to learn that they had prepared food and drinks for me. Their thoughtful gesture made me feel valued and appreciated. I realized that although my job can be challenging, the support of our partners such as the barangay makes it more fulfilling and less arduous.”

Ripple effect
In this story of KALAHI-CIDSS technical coordinator Rachelle Anne Ferran of Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro, the ripple effect concept showed that a single action can have far-reaching consequences that extend beyond its initial impact.

Just like a small pebble dropped into a still body of water creates ripples that spread out in all directions, a single act or decision can create a chain reaction of events that have a significant impact on people, organizations, or even entire communities.

During a meeting with all the barangay officials and community volunteers, Rachelle said the KALAHI-CIDSS team announced that the budget allocated for the proposed project was insufficient. It explained that the project might not push through due to this limitation.

However, the atmosphere of the meeting changed when a volunteer raised hand and offered to donate some materials to keep the project going. Witnessing the volunteer’s willingness to contribute was heartening, as it showed the community’s dedication to seeing the project through.

“Before the team could respond, another volunteer stood up and offered to provide a truck of aggregates, and another volunteered to invite locals to help once a week in the construction to lessen the labor cost. The community members were eager to collaborate, contribute their own resources and skills, and come together for the benefit of the community. It was a touching scene that I thought was only possible in movies, but it unfolded before my very eyes–a moment that will forever be remembered,” she said.

Paying it forward
This story of municipal financial analyst Melanie delos Santos of San Andres, Romblon, is about a promise to pay the kindness she was shown forward, without expecting anything in return.

One day, when Melanie was done reviewing disbursement vouchers in a place called Brgy. Agpudlos, the barangay treasurer offered to look for a motorcycle to ride back to her office. However, upon checking her wallet, she realized that she did not have enough money to pay for the ride as she had paid the electricity bill earlier that day.

Without hesitation, the treasurer lent her the amount, which Melanie was grateful for. “Although, she always declines my attempts to repay her kindness whenever I visit her. I vowed to myself to pay it forward by doing good deeds for others and helping them, just like how the barangay treasurer had done it for me.”

Brotherly love
The last in the collection of small acts of kindness story is from Sheela Mae Fosana, municipal financial analyst in Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro. KALAHI-CIDSS said the affection and kindness that brothers have for each other is a deep, familial bond that can withstand hardships and difficulties.

Sheela narrated that despite having a cast on his arm due to an accident, kuya Ramil, a community empowerment facilitator, still managed to report to work every day. His brother would drive him to the office and to his scheduled meetings and monitoring in various barangays. Kuya Ramil explained that he could not afford to miss work because it was the busiest phase of the implementation, and he wanted to be hands-on with the project.

She said she witnessed kuya Ramil’s perseverance and his brother’s unconditional love for him, and realized how fortunate she was to be working alongside such compassionate and altruistic individuals.

“Being part of the KALAHI-CIDSS team is a dream job for me because I share the same aspirations as my colleagues, and we work together to provide genuine and heartfelt service to the people that we serve,” Sheela said.