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People and Places

DSWD fosters employees who serve with a heart

Ms. Cristina Samson
Ms. Cristina Samson was one of the social workers who conducted cash pay-outs in the communities for the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) during the pandemic.

During the pandemic, social workers from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) stood side-by-side with the medical front line workers to deliver social services and implement programs responsive to the most basic needs of the Filipinos affected by the health crisis. Though aware of the risks and dangers, they braved the serious threat of the virus nonetheless, unmindful of their own safety, just to ensure that the public still received the help they needed in those trying times.

What can be construed as a silver lining was that the pandemic produced modern day heroes out of public servants who chose to give their selfless service amid the threat to their lives.

Maria Cristina So-Samson was one of the many DSWD social workers who served the public at the risk of her own life at the height of the COVID-19 outbreak. She works at the DSWD Field Office V handling the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) which provides immediate financial assistance to families and individuals in crisis situation.

Modern day hero

Tin contracted COVID-19 during a cash distribution activity for the AICS. Due to the nature of her work, direct contact with the clients was inevitable.

“I was the head that time, but I know I needed to go down on the ground (to the communities),” she narrated.

To lessen the risk for its employees, the DSWD employed various strategies. These included strict implementation of minimum health standards in the workplace and in the field, implementation of flexible work hours and work-from-home arrangement, monitoring of employees exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, partnership with other agencies to provide free swab testing for employees, and conduct of seminar series on Occupational Safety and Health with emphasis on COVID-19 safety measures.

However, Tin still got sick.

“I got severe COVID-19 infection. I was in the Intensive Care Unit for 14 days and I developed complications,” she recalled. Her lungs were severely affected by the virus and had to undergo an operation.

Despite her experience, Tin is grateful for the second life given to her.

“I am very thankful because this is my second life. Everything that happened to me is a miracle. Ako yung patunay ng miracle after the pandemic,” (I am the proof of miracle after the pandemic), she stated.

Although her left arm was affected, Tin is thankful that her right arm is functioning. To her, this meant having another chance to serve.

“I still have a purpose, makakapag-trabaho pa ako” (I could still work), she said.

After her life-changing experience, Tin felt no regret about working on the field during the height of the pandemic.

“Hindi ako nag-sisisi dahil alam ko na noong nag-trabaho ako, (I have no regrets because I knew that when I did my job) it was to serve the people,” she continued.

An exemplary employee

Truly, Tin is an exemplary employee, epitomizing the real essence of being an Angel in Red Vest, a term of endearment for all DSWD workers for their selfless service.

Hence, DSWD Field Office V awarded Tin with the Best Social Worker under the Department’s PRAISE Awards. The Award is given to employees who had notable contributions to the mandate of the DSWD.

Moreover, the Award aims to boost the employees’ morale while highlighting their accomplishments which are oftentimes unseen and unknown to the public that they serve.

“It will boost your confidence and self-worth,” said Tin.

“Mararamdaman mo na importante ka sa isang organisasyon (It will make you feel important to the organization). Maliit man ang posisyon mo (though you do not occupy a high position), you are needed by your organization”, she added.

Her advice to her fellow Angels in Red Vests is “to be persistent. Always go back to your oath as a worker and why you are working in the DSWD. I know we will be challenged by a lot of problems but be persistent and do not give up despite your situation.”

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