By Dr. JAIME ARISTOTLE B. ALIP
CARD MRI Founder and Chairman Emeritus
May 28, 2021
An online carinderia, livelihood trainings via video calls, online coaching for the elderly on how to use digital banking apps… the list is endless as to how creative and innovative CARD nanays can become in support of each other amidst the toughest of times.
More than a year has passed since we started battling COVID-19. We witnessed how critically it can affect our economic activities and health. But for us Filipinos, one thing remained true: no problem is big enough to faze us. Our courage, resilience, and sense of community are stronger now more than ever.
Amidst the surge of cases in NCR and surrounding provinces in April 2021, our spirit of bayanihan to lend a helping hand to our kapwa also became more evident. We were witnesses to how our frontliners kept on giving the best medical services even when circumstances were difficult. As vaccines started to become available, doctors, nurses, and other medical practitioners across the country volunteered to hasten the roll-out of the vaccination program.
As the new health and social measures were put in place, many workers were again deprived of their sources of income, with food insecurity not far in the horizon. Ignited by Patricia Non in Quezon City, at least 1,500 community pantries sprouted all over the country to help the needy, giving vegetables, rice, groceries, and other essentials for free. People were urged to give according to their capacity and take according to their needs [“Magbigay nang ayon sa kakayahan. Kumuha nang ayon sa pangangailangan”]. Indeed, the Filipinos never run out of ingenious ideas to show that we are united in this fight.
Pagkakapit-kamay to address various challenges is not new among CARD MRI communities. For more than three decades, CARD MRI has been promoting women empowerment, transforming housewives into entrepreneurs and community leaders. True enough, they learn to gain collective understanding of our recent situation in extending their hands to help each other. These values and culture have been deeply engraved to our nanays.
To know their stories of struggles and heroism in the face of COVID-19, we came up with “SaNaySay Challenge” on our official Facebook page. Through this, they are given a platform to express their ideas and plan of action in responding to the pandemic for themselves and their communities.
Our Nanays and their stories
The result of our effort in building responsible communities is further proven when we have received thousands of comments from our Facebook followers to share their stories of acts of kindness for their community. Even the pandemic can never silence their brilliant ideas. More so, it only amplified them.
One nanay who constantly leads her community is Margie Olanday. She saw what their CARD center is capable of and shared with her co-members what they can do best with their resources. It was her idea to plant vegetables and flowers in their center members’ sizeable backyard, and she would help sell it by marketing it on social media. Since their other members are skilled when it comes to cooking, Margie also suggested using the vegetables they sowed as ingredients for healthy and appetizing dishes. Residents in their area benefitted from this initiative, especially as they are fond of buying already cooked and hot meals for their families.
True enough, Margie’s plan had come to fruition. Many have come to buy fresh vegetables and sweet-smelling flowers which were sold at a very affordable price. Aside from this, residents in their community did not have to go to more public spaces and expose themselves to the virus just to buy meals. They must only step out of their homes and head into their neighborhood to buy what they need.
Not only did Margie help her center members generate extra income for their families, but she has also helped her community thrive during a time when food security and nutrition are essential. Indeed, what Margie has done for their center and their community is proof of her great stewardship over the resources they already have.
Meanwhile, the knowledge we shared with our clients through the trainings delivered by CARD-MRI Development Institute (CMDI) are also creating ripples of hope for their communities. Adela Bautista, a microentrepreneur in Malita, Davao Occidental, initiated to conduct online livelihood training to its community using a messaging app. Adela generously shared her acquired knowledge from her trainings in CMDI to help her community thrive as the economy is still slowly re-opening. Aside from this, Adela has more than enough to provide relief goods to her fellow clients.
Our trainings go beyond one person. It can flow from other people and transpire change to local communities. Their knowledge can help them become resilient from the uncertainties of tomorrow.
In these extraordinary times, and despite the real danger, there are individuals who have shown great courage to help the vulnerable communities. Elderly, children and pregnant women face the greatest risks. They have more limited movement in the outside world. We recognize people like Roma Sevidal Altovar for having the bravery of initiating help in her community.
Along with her husband, she goes to the houses of her co-members, especially to the senior citizens, to tend their loan payments minimizing their outside activities. As a Center Chief who sees CARD as an important institution to them, she uses social media to keep her CARD co-members updated about the organization. The smiles and gratitude she received from her members and buyers always warm her heart. Roma is an exemplary member of CARD MRI who wholeheartedly helps her community during these troubling times.
More stories of hope
While the SaNaySay Challenge will run until the end of May 2021, our Facebook Page have already received almost 1,000 responses on its first week alone. It has also sparked conversations among CARD MRI members on how they can support each other at this trying time.
Among the responses received, 30% cited that their greatest contribution is following the health protocols to keep their selves, their families, and their communities safe. The recent crisis also opens the mind of the communities to be more prepared for the uncertainties of tomorrow. As they realized the many uncertainties, they are promoting savings and financial literacy among their communities. Moreover, a number of CARD MRI members who had surplus agricultural produce such as vegetables, rice, and fruits gave them away to their neighbourhood and communities even at the start of the lockdowns last year – a sign of helping one another in need.
Since most people halted their source of income, they encouraged one another to create a livelihood like gardening, contribute to established community pantries and community stores. The pandemic teaches us the meaning of teamwork.
These are some simple but impactful contributions of our fellows to their local communities. While we are proud of assisting people to improve their quality of life, we also feel uplifted that we have developed CARD communities who know to create better solutions and carry their communities to progress. Remaining true to our mission, we build communities composed of responsible citizens of the country and are always ready to help.
The pandemic can never deter our values as Filipinos. We have shown our pagdadamayan long before the COVID-19 pandemic. We are always working together to help one another. Generosity, bravery, and kindness are the values our modern heroes have. It is time for them to be seen and recognized.
There are so many ways to help our community. Just like the stories of our nanays, our hands and minds are never empty to extend it to people in need. We can always provide material and non-materials needs to somehow ease the hardship of one family. Our collective efforts, big or small, can offer relief to distressed families.
These CARD clients are igniting hope during this crisis. With CARD MRI, we will always champion their advocacies and empower them so they can empower other people. In the midst of adversity, we join all our nanays and the Filipino communities in celebrating kindness and bayanihan spirit.
Dr. Jaime Aristotle B. Alip is the founder and chairman emeritus of CARD Mutually Reinforcing Institutions, a group of 21 institutions that envisions eradicating poverty in the Philippines. He is the recipient of the 2019 Ramon V. del Rosario Award for Nation Building.