Parents are deemed the most important and influential guardians in your lifetime. They prepare you for new circumstances or adventures and encourage you to learn from gaining experience. They equip you with the necessary skills, guide you and gradually strengthen you into the person you were meant to become.
I am lucky to have two corporate parents just now. One has driven my natural inquisitiveness to do more by exploring new possibilities, and the other is teaching me about protection in more ways than one.
My corporate parent, ‘GSK’, through the PULSE programme, has nudged me towards a unique lifetime opportunity which will allow me to use my skills and experiences thus far. I have temporarily flown from the nest and moved in with the other corporate parent which is a not-for-profit organisation, ‘Save the Children Philippines’.
I am re-adjusting and learning how to coexist harmoniously with this newer parent who speaks a similar language but has a slightly different dialect, wears a contrasting brand and has a rather distinct purpose to save lots and lots of other children.
Save the Children believes that all children deserve a better future. Through fundraising activities and building collaborative partnerships they are able to fund various programmes that help deliver education, health and nutrition and child protection interventions for children. In parallel with the inclusion of grant funding from institutional donors, Save the Children ensures meaningful change to the lives of Filipino children.
My first few weeks have been exciting, mostly overwhelming and quite emotionally charged.
My introductory meeting with my director was a late Saturday afternoon lunch followed by an orientation tour of Greenbelt, full of shopping outlets bustling with many people. I needn’t have bothered packing as I did – every type of retail outlet is available here.
After a typical Filipino lunch, we shopped and I was persuaded to buy a sturdy umbrella.
‘It’s rainy season’ advised Celine, ‘buy the bigger one to protect you, also buy flipflops and a rain mac, they are essentials here!’’.
I learned why. Within my first few days, I encountered tropical storms that brought heavy rains activating the business continuity plan. Many homes and roads were flooded as a result!
I am settling quite well into the office layout and integrating into the team.
I participated in an I-Witness programme facilitated by Save the Children and attended by a select team from IKEA. During Saturday, I met the most incredible mothers of children with learning disabilities ranging from cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
I joined Dr. Abuda’s clinic at a local school in Paranaque City. Using the most basic tools, we checked if the children there were suffering from malnutrition. Their mothers were so patient and most inspiring as they chatted away, discussing their child’s strengths and weaknesses.
The children were adorable. One of them conveyed a well thought out message using sign language and then broke into a cheeky grin. The little man gave me some flattering remarks translated by his mother, telling me that I was beautiful, very tall and … fat! Everyone in the room chuckled – what a terrific way to break the ice!
Sunday was Funday in Taguig which let me experience a community’s contribution to the celebration of National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation week. I was thoroughly spoiled at this occasion with a good massage by a visually impaired team member of Future Vision group, who use acquired massage skills to pay for future education. He totally addressed the knots in my upper back!
The transition between my corporate parents have presented a range of possibilities and some challenges. I must remain patient and continue my integration into this new focused team whilst I learn how to adapt to the Filipino living and working culture, the new tastes and mostly the environment.
I hope to acquire an understanding of idioms of the Filipino language so that I can use and understand them in conversations with native speakers. I am fast learning quirky habits like pre-ordering a drinkable water supply which is a routine activity here.
The possibilities are plentiful. For work it is critical that I complete a structured objectives charter to ensure that I can thrive in this busy team. They are constantly exploring fundraising opportunities and building key partnerships crucial to giving Filipino children, a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm.
In these early weeks I feel confident yet wobbly, capable yet curious and most of all composed yet carefree to bring my best into this short-term role. I feel privileged to work towards a mission which inspires breakthroughs, in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives.
On a personal level I have set myself a crazy physical challenge which is to learn how to dive. This will take me out of my comfort zone a tad more and let me enjoy the beauty of some of the islands that make up the Philippines.