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Elderly community volunteer champions community-driven development

Wenina Rosellosa
Wenina Resellosa, a senior citizen volunteer of the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan -Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS) program, continues to champion community-driven development to gain support from future volunteers.

For Wenina Rosellosa or ‘Nanay Wennie’, a 75 year old community volunteer, age is not a hindrance to contribute towards the improvement of her community in Barangay Canagahan, San Remigio, Cebu.

Despite being a senior citizen, Nanay Wennie joined the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS) in 2019 as a community volunteer because of her passion to bring progress to their community – a trait necessary to support community-driven development (CDD).

KALAHI-CIDSS is a program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) that uses the CDD strategy which allows communities to gain control over decisions and resources. Through the program, community members actively participate to identify and prioritize their community’s concerns and allow them to design, implement, and manage solutions to their priority community problems.

As a community volunteer, Nanay Wennie actively participated in various activities to engage her co-villagers to become volunteers for the construction of their sub-project which is a 0.650 km farm-to-market road in Purok Bayabas.

Whenever they have barangay assemblies, her voice could be heard in the microphone urging the townspeople to support and volunteer in their sub-project. Her confidence and eloquence in speaking was due to her former profession as a public school teacher.

“Ako kining gipili sa walay pagduha-duha ug wala ko masayop nga akong gidawat ang hagit nga mahimong usa ka boluntir” (I was chosen as a volunteer without hesitation and I am glad that I made no mistake in accepting the challenge of becoming a volunteer), shared Nanay Wennie.

She also urged everyone to believe in the realization of the projects being offered to them. Her motivation to join the program also became an inspiration to other members of the volunteer group to see the goodness of KALAHI-CIDSS and eventually aspire for progress in their community.

“Madasig ko sa higayon nga ako mobatbat kabahin sa KALAHI-CIDSS ngadto sa mga purok sa among komunidad. Akong gilantaw ang dakong hulagway sa kabag-uhan nga pwedeng mahitabo sa usa ka gamay nga komunidad kon ang mga tawo mahatagan og oportunidad sa pagpartisipa ug pagtinabangay.” (I feel alive every time I discuss about KALAHI-CIDSS to every ‘purok’ in our community. I looked at the bigger picture of the possibility that a small community like ours can become progressive if people are empowered to participate and work together), said Nanay Wennie.

When asked about her reason for supporting the program, Nanay Wennie explained that the lack of access road to help her community members has become a hindrance in the development of Canagahan. Among the examples that she mentioned were the struggles of her fellow educators and her students as they travel to their school because of the rocky road in their barangay. The lack of access roads also made it difficult for farmers to deliver their products to the town’s market.

She also met a lot of challenges during the implementation of their sub-project. People thought that their participation in KALAHI, without compensation, will bring no good to their families as they have mouths to feed at the end of the day.

Despite the hindrances, Nanay Wennie continued to share information about the program knowing that her efforts will not be wasted.

A year after their project implementation, their farm-to-market road was finally finished. It was gladly welcomed by farmers and the townspeople.

The completed road helped her realize that the promise of KALAHI-CIDSS and the DSWD to look after the welfare of the people is a clear testament that there is a possibility when people work together.

When asked about her next plan, Nanay Wennie shared that she wants to see more people, especially younger ones participate and join KALAHI. In her spare time, she continues to engage with people and discuss with them how the program transformed her.

She also thinks that talking to other community members from neighboring barangays will encourage people to support and join the cause of DSWD’s people empowerment.

“Daghan pa ang angayan buhaton apan sa nakita nako nga kabag-ohan diri sa among komunidad, nabati nako nga aduna koy nindot nga nakab-ot sa akoang kinabuhi (There are so much to be done but the progress I see now in our community makes me feel I have achieved something good in my life),” said Nanay Wennie.

As of May 2021, KALAHI-CIDSS has a total of 779,151 volunteers around the country. Of which, 158,402 are senior citizens.

DSWD hopes to continue the legacy of Nanay Wennie and promote community volunteerism through community-driven development.