Saturday, October 26, 2013

Cherry Mobile in Cebu and Bohol: Compassion in Action

When the whole nation extended their condolences and empathy to the Visayans affected by the earthquake on October 15, 2013, Barangay Cherry Mobile extended their presence and let their very hands reach out to the affected families.

Cebu and Bohol had not yet fully recovered from aftershocks on October 17 when the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team of Cherry Mobile flew to Cebu City to complete the last leg of their preparations for the Disaster Response activity benefiting affected communities in Cebu and Bohol.

In Cebu, Cherry Mobile worked hand in hand with the Provincial Social Welfare Office (PSWO) of Cebu and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Regional Office for Region 7. They rallied their volunteers to help repack the goods purchased at Cebu into individual Cherry Mobile bags. Some of their staff also helped distribute the goods to the communities. PSWO and DSWD also provided the vehicles to transport the goods in the community.

Volunteers shared their time to help prepare goods for earthquake victims.

College students spent their time packing goods into sacks to be delivered to affected communities.

The staff of the Provincial Social Welfare Office (PSWO) smile in hope despite pressing times.

Volunteers from different sectors helped DSWD and Cherry Mobile pack the relief goods to be shipped to Bohol.

Many of the supermarkets and stores in Cebu remained closed during the week when the earthquake occurred; also, many of the working population were agitated by the earthquake experience. Thus, processing the goods from supermarket to the repacking site to individual bags took time beyond work hours. The staff had to stay even until night time to monitor the delivery of goods. Transporting the goods also entailed hours of travel on rough roads in a formidable weather. Distributing them was not limited to daytime, but even at night just to make sure that the residents receive the goods as soon as it arrived in the location. But all the tiring work and long travel did not stop these volunteers to contribute their part in making sure that help goes straight to the communities.

At the DSWD Field Office-7, repacking continued day and night in order to complete enough supplies for shipping to Bohol beneficiaries.

During the disaster relief operation, Cherry Mobile bags contained ready to eat food and a bottle of water, since many of the water pipelines and wells were destroyed by the earthquake. DSWD Staff took charge of repacking until midnight to meet their target (10,000 sacks of goods per day to be delivered in Bohol)

Even at night time, staff from the PSWO office helped distribute the goods to families affected by the landslide in Boljoon.

Barangay Cherry Mobile was able to help about 3,000 families in Cebu and Bohol by means of relief packs. Around 1,250 bags of goods (rice and groceries) were given for distribution in Cebu while more than 1,650 goods were transported to municipalities and barangays in Bohol. Barangay Cherry Mobile distributed the goods to 500 families at the Mandaue city market, where the market collapsed, and one vendor died while others were injured and displaced from their stalls.

Recipients of food packs from the Mandaue market gladly receive five kilos of rice and a bag of ready-to-eat food.

Residents of Boljoon, Cebu, which is a three-hour travel away from Cebu City, also received goods from Barangay Cherry Mobile.  Boljoon residents suffered from a landslide as a result of the earthquake.

Boljoon residents gratefully received the goods from Cherry Mobile.

With the help of our PSWO and Boljoon Municipal Social Welfare & Development staff, Barangay Cherry Mobile was able to respond first to these communitiesahead of other aid-giving organizations. In Bohol, residents in Danao received food packs from Barangay Cherry Mobile. The CSR team together with some DSWD staff had to travel five hours to reach the municipality of Danao because the normal route which takes only an hour and a half has been largely affected by the earthquake. The remaining goods which are endorsed to PSWO for Cebu and DSWD Regional Office were to be distributed to the residents in severely affected communities.

Hundreds of  Danao residents immediately lined up to receive goods upon hearing that it has arrived at the municipal hall at around 9PM.

Many of the volunteers are also victims, like this municipal social worker who just came out of the hospital only to help give out relief goods until midnight.

It is easy to have compassion for those who lost their loved ones, their homes, their businesses, and a part of their cultural heritage. One can just wonder how one could sleep peacefully in a land that shakes violently every so often, let alone thinking about how to rebuild a shattered house, and lift up a downcast family. But being where they are and experiencing even just a bit of what they have experienced on that doomed day when the earthquake struck, and seeing personally the damages brought by nature gave a whole new perspective on their condition. And being able to personally hand out some goods and give a smile to the discouraged locals meant a whole lot of difference. This risk-taking effort is a symbol of Barangay Cherry Mobile’s commitment to help those who need help the most, even if at times it would require going out of the comfort zone, both literally and figuratively.

The CSR team together with the volunteers endured lengthy rough roads (five hours of travel to target area), tormented by painful sun rays at noontime and heavy rains in the night—wet and chilled, stuck in slippery roads and suffered from dry cough brought by dusty roads. To deliver the relief goods on time, they must keep going and ignore hunger and thirst, unexplainable body pains and sleepless nights due to a series of aftershocks with a magnitude of up to 5.2 and no electricity nor a comfort room for an aching stomach.

All those challenges were surpassed with an end in mind that the CSR team could help rekindle the shattered hopes and dreams of thousands of families who were victims of tragedy. The bottom line of our initiative is to express our company’s great concern to those who were afflicted by the disaster so that they will feel that indeed, Cherry Mobile CARES…

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

October Orphanage Outreach with Cherry Mobile

If other people would hesitate to do one simple thing to help the sickly, Barangay Cherry Mobile would be one of the few who would do it—with a sincere heart.

Many people would definitely hesitate to care for the sick all the more when their condition would rend the hearts of the people who would help and just leave them depressed instead of satisfied with helping others. But Cherry Mobile employees did not think of themselves as they thought more of giving joy to the kids at Missionaries of Charity Home of Joy in Tayuman, Tondo, Manila.

The Missionaries of Charity Home of Joy is known among Catholics as the spiritual family founded by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. It is an orphanage for special children who have Down's syndrome, hydrocephalous, and other diseases. Composed primarily by nuns, Missionaries of Charity provide shelter to the sick, abandoned, and the destitute. They accept infants and young children who were brought by their own parents because of their inability to raise them in a safe environment. Many of the children are sickly mainly because of malnutrition. At present, they look after 63 children including those with special condition.

Missionaries of Charity is located right along Tayuman St, Tondo, Manila.

On the second week of October, 14 employees from Cherry Mobile met together early in the morning and went to Missionaries of Charity. A short orientation about the orphanage was held for the 14 volunteers before they were divided into groups and began their household chores. One group helped with the huge pile of laundry. Missionaries of Charity needs volunteers to wash the clothes, bibs, bed sheets, and other garments of all the children in the orphanage. Another group folded the dry clothes and when done folding, helped with hanging the washed clothes and sheets to dry in the sun.

Cherry volunteers spent the morning washing baskets of kids’ clothes and bed sheets.
Cherry volunteers pose during a short break from their laundry task—tired and wet, but happy.

Even tiny garments like bibs and infant garments should be clipped securely along with the hanged clothes at the rooftop of the orphanage.

Piles of clean clothes in all shapes and sizes straight from the clotheslines were neatly folded, ready for the kids’ use.

After almost an hour of doing household chores, the Cherry volunteers went to the kitchen to prepare the food they brought for the children. They also included in the food count those street people whom Missionaries of Charity feed every mealtime as well as the helpers who volunteer to help care for the sick kids on a shifting schedule.

A Cherry Mobile employee assists the volunteer staff in preparing the food into individual containers.
A healthy meal included vegetables, and our employees make sure each individual gets a fair serving of veggies.

When the food preparation was done, some of the volunteers helped with feeding the special children, while the others entertained the kids who spend most of the time lying on their beds. Some of them were teary eyed upon seeing the condition of the kids; nevertheless, they did not miss the opportunity to spend time and give kindness.

It is the aim of Barangay Cherry Mobile to help those who are least served, and at times it would mean going out of the comfort zone to reach those who need just a bit of comfort to survive. These Cherry volunteers took time off work to do household chores they don’t usually do at home—washing clothes and drying them in the sun, folding dry clothes, and feeding children. But it does not matter much when one realizes that this little sacrifice makes life a little better for the sick and suffering.

For a common employee, a usual day in the office could not mean much, but when spent with sick kids who can smile, laugh and infect others with laughter, a usual day would turn into a memorable experience worth drawing insights from. And for these Cherry volunteers, it would not even require a whole day. Just half a day at the orphanage taught them a life lesson worth keeping.

Cherry volunteers pose for a shot with Sister Maria in front of their main office right after the outreach activity.

Written by: Keren Grace Tandico