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The story of Jhona Dagunan, a mother and community volunteer from Negros Oriental

We never had a formal day care center before. Our children used to take up the old and rundown barangay office where patches of sunlight find their way on the tables and chairs. When it rained, the children would cramp themselves on the corner away from the dripping roof.
As a farming community, we plant sugar cane, corn and root crops to earn a living. We also plant other vegetables and do backyard livestock-raising mostly for our consumption. Life here in Barangay New Namangka in the town of Mabinay is easy, and we stay contented with what we have and never complain.
When I was still not a volunteer, I was a simple housewife taking care of my four (4) children. But, when the Kalahi-CIDSS Project arrived in the community, things began to change in our village. People started to get curious and participate more in the affairs of our barangay. I noticed that my perceptions had changed as well through the trainings and seminars I had attended. I learned that the primary purpose of the project is to educate one self.
Being the project preparation team leader, there were times when I had no choice but to leave my family to do my task as a community volunteer. I headed a small group of volunteers to conceptualize and write a project proposal based on the results of the situational analysis we conducted in the community. We also had to do site inspection to confirm the proposed solutions to the identified problems in the community and have this validated in a general assembly wherein we gathered comments and suggestions from the body to further revise and better the project proposal.
Our work in preparing the proposal did not stop there. We had to think of creative ways on how to propose our project for grant provision. It was hard work but I thought that even if I did not get anything in return from volunteering, making me see my community change for the good is already enough for me.
One day, we were called to attend a forum at the town proper which was participated in by representatives from all the barangays of our town. We presented our day care center project to the other barangays and proposed it to be prioritized because our children needed the facility. The other barangays also proposed their projects like school buildings, roads, health centers and water systems, but I silently hoped that our project would be selected so we could give our children a new center and a new found hope for them. When the day ended, our day care center became one of the prioritized projects in our town.
When the funds were downloaded in our community, we started constructing our project. Most of the women in our village, who were also volunteers like me, helped out in getting boulders from the river and grinding them into small pieces and also piling up of sacks of sand which we could use to construct the day care center. We did, however, left the hard labor in constructing the center to the men in our village which was okay for us because the men, who are also the husbands of the community volunteers, were able to get additional income for their own families.
Although the men did the hard work, we like to think that we were the supervisors of the construction because we were the ones who did the accounting of funds, procuring of materials and paying the workers and making sure of the quality of the project.
Community Volunteers from New Namangka Mabinay Negros Oriental
Despite the heavy monsoon rains, we completed the construction of the day care center in no time. The center was then turned over to the barangay and a village ordinance was put up for the operation and maintenance of the project. While the municipality provided a teacher to the day care center, we organized a parents-teachers association to help maintain the project.
Through our sacrifices and hardships as volunteers, all of that was worth it because we wanted our children to have a safe and comfortable place where they can start honing their young minds.
My name is Jhona Dagunan, and I am a community volunteer.
*This is a press release.

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