Volunteers' Corner: Tessa Krebs

 "While making my way to Manila, expectations were high of the thought of working with a highly acclaimed VIDES chapter where I could use some of my talents and past experiences, and hopefully learn about serving others and the positive impact of VIDES projects on their community.  What I found was even more than what I had expected! I was blessed to have been chosen to serve in the Philippines. 

I had great joy in using my background in Business to work on office projects and tasks, including the VIDES Philippines Project Proposal, the
Busina Mo, Dunong Ko Mobile Education Project Module Volunteer Handbook and brochure, and several other small projects to assist the office staff. I also naturally offered to lead the planning for the Annual Sports Fest, because of my enthusiasm for sports. 

While joining the “Busina Mo, Dunong Ko” Mobile Education Project for urban street children, I provided tutorial services in major academic subjects and assisted with values formation and group activities. I traveled five days a week to six areas in Metro Manila where the children were given the chance to actively participate in lessons and receive personal attention they aren’t able to receive from the public education system. I got to know these kids personally, and I am grateful to them because they have opened my heart to the beauty of this country. Because of them, every future endeavor I embark on will be done with greater passion because of the responsibility I feel to use my gifts and opportunities to the fullest. In some small way, my accomplishments will mean more to me because of these kids to whom I wish I could give the world, but the most I can do is to live my life abundantly. They have shown me the strength of a survivor with the heart to love deeply. The faces of these kids are hard and tough on the exterior, but somewhere deep inside they are yearning for something more, an unconditional love. I got to see glimpses of the extraordinary people they will become during brief interactions which revealed a transformation in attitude and behavior. I will forever look back on our time together with great joy and remember the profound love that I felt for the children of which I have never experienced before. I will never forget and will always pray for their futures, and hope to hear of their great success stories.

After two months of tutoring the BMDK kids, I began to teach my most enjoyable lessons; instructions about the basics of playing soccer. I coached more than 60 kids on their busy streets with one ball and makeshift goals. Each and every day I looked forward to the kids shouting to me, “Ate Tessa, Soccer?” The summer sessions culminated in a soccer tournament at the annual Sports Fest which each area competed against one another. I feel a special connection with those players and will always have a special place in my heart for “my” soccer kids. The kids revealed to me how incredible it feels to watch pupils improve and to observe them love and find passion for what I love. I now recognize that the means through which I can teach and inspire kids will probably not be with books, but with a ball. This realization was re-emphasized during our trip to the Azkals game, as I saw their excitement building on the drive to the game and jumping around giving me high-fives as the Azkals defeated their opponent. 

The other passion that I discovered here in the Philippines was a deep concern for the poor. I feel a mission and newly-discovered motivation to help communities find the desire and means to escape the cycle of poverty. I learned how wonderful and insightful the VIDES community members are, but how much the children need something greater to hope for and someone to model for them the love that Christ has shown us. I believe so strongly in the power of the Mobile Education project to change communities, and with constant new ideas and growth, one day soon the six areas will be completely new places from when VIDES first started there.

I am grateful to have been able to see many different places in the Philippines and challenged to share my life and time with others. The most significant experience I had
traveling was to Palawan for the annual Mission Camp. The Mission Camp was a beautiful experience where I was able to witness over 50 other volunteers giving their time and all their love and effort in providing services to a community in need. The local sister’s dormitory graciously accommodated us as we served 300 patients at the Medical Mission and 100 persons for haircutting services. A total of 400 children and adults attended the inputs on health and human rights and received school supplies, clothes and food. Throughout the afternoon we heard the cries of 30 goats reluctantly going with their new owners through the Kambing Mo, Kabahayan Ko livelihood project. Just before our blessing of the new VIDES BMDK multi-cab given to the Palawan community, we shared a mass together to celebrate our unity with the community and from where the inspiration from which we give comes.

Another group that was surprisingly admirable and taught me a number of lessons was the out-of-school-youth attending the Alternative Learning System. The ALS is a literacy program of the government adapted by duly-accredited schools and intended for children who have been deprived of primary education due to poverty, child
labor, abuse and/or neglect. While attending the daily evening classes and providing one-on-one tutoring and occasional lessons, I was able to understand the beauty of this method of learning. The program is the modern representation of Don Bosco’s vision of taking children off the streets and showing them a positive alternative to their current path in life. The students have found something that gives them hope and a chance for a bright future; along with values formation for living a life in Christ which God has planned for each one of them. I have witnessed how love can change lives of young people with just one person who cares and expects something of them.

I am full of admiration for all the sisters in the Don
Bosco School community, Manila and the whole province. They have shown me hospitality unmatched by anyone I’ve come across. Their interest in my experiences in the Philippines has been a great comfort during this year away from family and friends. Their presence and fun-loving attitude has made it easy and enjoyable to be around. Through their actions I have learned many valuable lessons that I hope to hold onto and share with others. I have seen the beauty of community, and of devotion in religious life.

I am particularly grateful to Sr.
Jojo, VIDES delegate, who has tirelessly worked to develop VIDES into a highly respected and effective volunteer organization. VIDES, nor my experience would not be the same without her. It would also have been incomplete without the companionship of Sarah, Rhea, Varry, Melvin and Amy from the office for accepting me into the VIDES family and becoming great friends. I was constantly motivated by their dedication to work harder in my own tasks.

I thank everyone for this unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime experience to serve.
Maraming Salamat Po."


Original write up may be found at at Tessa's blog, TessaMission


Snapshots: Eat and Meet 2014

Our heartfelt gratitude goes to our dear VIDES Pinoy volunteers and VIDES Pinoy Board of Trustees for supporting the 7th Eat and Meet Dinner for a Cause held last July 4, 2014. Thank you for inviting and bringing your friends and family to this annual event.

We are also very much grateful to Sr. Celia and the Don Bosco FMA Community for letting us hold the event at Don Bosco School Sta. Mesa.  A big thanks also top our very own Voce of VIDES for providing entertaining music throughout the night.

Let's continue to be "One for Others!" See you next year!

Go to the VIDES Facebook Page for more photos.


VIDES Eat and Meet 2014: Dinner for a Cause

VIDES Philippines once again invites you to experience a night of good music, good food, and great company.

This year’s Eat and Meet Dinner for a Cause will be held on 05 July 2014 (Saturday),6:00 pm to 9:00 pm at Don Bosco School Manila,V. Mapa Extension, Sta. Mesa, Manila. Tickets are sold for only P500.00 each!

Proceeds will fund the various educational, livelihood, and outreach programs and projects of the organization.  

Even if you can’t attend the fundraising event due to your busy schedule, you can still help by being a sponsor or donor. You may deposit your donations to:
VIDES Philippines Volunteers Foundation, Inc.
Metrobank V. Mapa Branch
Account No. 3306-24619-5

Please call the VIDES Office at 703-5606 for ticket reservations and other inquiries. 


Relief Operations in San Remigio, Cebu

Five months after typhoon Yolanda ravaged Central Philippines, local volunteers and representatives of the FMA Cebu Educating Community and VIDES Philippines Volunteer Foundation Inc. traveled to the municipality of San Remigio in Northern Cebu to conduct relief operations and catechesis.


Composed of a caravan of two huge trucks filled with relief goods and a small van, the relief operations group braved the heavy rains induced by a low pressure area.  The volunteers passed through roads lined up with uprooted mango trees, felled coconut trees, and roofless schools and houses.  

Happy and hopeful smiles greeted the group when they finally arrived at the third class municipality after traveling some 61 miles from Cebu City.  

The distribution of relief items, which were generously provided by VIDES Italy and Caritas Italiana, started at around twelve noon and ended on or about half past eight in the evening. A total of 625 families received a half cavan of rice, blankets, and health and sanitation products.  


Mangrove Planting Project

Thirty-two (32) VIDES volunteers traveled to Barangay Silonay in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro last January 24-25, 2014 for the mangrove planting activity.  

With the help of the locals, the volunteers happily and excitedly planted a total of 1,000 seedlings, adding to existing mangrove forest of the 42-hectare Silonay Mangrove Conservation and Eco-Tourism Park.


In thanking the participants who joined the activity, VIDES Delegate, Sr Jojo Carrasco FMA, imparted an inspiring message to the volunteers:  
“Do you realize that when one plants a mangrove, man shares in God's creative work? Planting mangroves also supports Don Bosco's Preventive System because this activity is being done in view of protecting the environment and preserving it for the present and future generations, especially during typhoons and other natural calamities. Somehow, planting mangroves is also a form of ‘evangelization in action’.  As VIDES volunteers, we proclaim our love for God by being responsible stewards of His creation." 
The “Man Grows Mangroves Project” was initiated by VIDES Korea in 2013, right after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) devastated Central Philippines.   The project aims to educate VIDES volunteers and the local community on the importance of protecting mangrove forests and enjoin them to be active environment crusaders. Said project is jointly implemented by VIDES Korea and VIDES Philippines.


Planting Seeds of Love and Joyful Service

VIDES volunteers joined the Salesian Educating Community last February 15, 2014 for a tree planting and bonding activity to celebrate Sr. Sarah Garcia's Gratitude Day in San Pablo, Laguna. 

The day started with a mass at the St. Francis of Assisi Parish where Fr. Joel Torres emphasized the importance of living and serving with HEART (Humility, Enthusiasm, Amor, Respect, Thankfulness). He urged everyone to sow generously so that they may reap generously.  The attendees were also enjoined to heed the call to value  faithfulness and sharing.

For her message to the community, Sr Sarah underscored that teachings and examples of Don Bosco and Mother Mazarello show how God is deeply rooted in their hearts.  She asked everyone to serve the Lord with gladness, to be happy and holy in the Lord, and to commit to love.  She related that despite the trials and challenges, she is sure that the Salesian family is happy.  

Sr Sarah said that planting trees is a symbol that the Salesian Family Tree is rooted in good soil.  In ending her message, she urged the Salesian community to believe that love will flourish from within and among them. 

After the mass, everyone trooped to Sampaloc Lake for lunch and bonding time.  The volunteers took advantage of the time to explore the park, enjoy and marvel at nature, rent bicycles, take photos, and chat with Sr. Sarah and their co-volunteers.   

The tree planting activity at the nearby Malabanban Watershed followed. Young and old members of the Salesian community hiked to plant seedlings which were appended with colorful strips of papers containing their individual commitments to serve others and to be good stewards of the environment.



Volunteers' Reflections on the Strenna for 2014

"Da mihi animas, cetera tolle."
(Give me souls, take away the rest.)

As part of the spiritual formation of VIDES Philippines' officers, staff, and volunteers, the video of the Salesian Rector Major's Annual Strenna* is presented during the first general assembly regularly held at the beginning of the year.   

For 2014, the theme of the Strenna of Fr Pascual Chávez is "Let us draw upon Don Bosco's experience, so we can walk in holiness according to our specific vocation."  The Rector Major discussed Don Bosco's spirituality and highlighted the importance of pastoral charity as the center and synthesis of Salesian spirituality. He also underscored how the Salesian spirituality is experienced in particular ways, according to the specific nature of each group of the Salesian Family and each one's state in life, be it priestly ministry, consecrated life, lay, family, youth, elderly, etc.   

In concluding his Strenna, Fr Chávez urged the members of the Salesian family to do the following: 1) commit ourselves to a deeper understanding of Don Bosco's spiritual experience; 2) live the core and synthesis of Salesian spirituality which is pastoral charity; 3) propose and communicate Salesian spirituality according to the diversity of our vocations; and 4) read Don Bosco’s writings which are sources of Salesian spirituality.

VIDES Volunteers' Reflections on the Strenna for 2014

I’m struck by Don Bosco's “passion for God and for the young.” As Busina Mo, Dunong Ko (BMDK) volunteers, we are reminded by Don Bosco to be patient. Like him, let us believe that “In every child there is a seed of goodness.” - Amy

Motto of Don Bosco: “Give me souls, take away the rest.” I agree that we save the souls of the young thru volunteerism. - Cheryl

In VIDES, we see the growth in the mission of Don Bosco; the volunteers have imbibed the Salesian Spirituality; everyone is responsible in the field --- volunteers have become like “auto-pilots”, which means that everybody moves with conviction for the common good and the mission. - Tony

In VIDES, we live out the essence of “Give me souls, take away the rest.” We evangelize (give them hope and share our faith), we educate and enable the children and their parents (educate them on human rights, develop their talents), we empower them to become better persons spiritually, economically, personally, etc.) - Ciel

“As a father of two children, Don Bosco’s teachings can also be applied in our home. Even I experience the ‘kakulitan’ of my kids, just like the BMDK children, so I’m challenged to be patient. Children are true to their nature --- just simply being themselves --- so I understand them and apply more patience in dealing with them. In my daily life, I also am asked to exercise patience in politics, even while driving, at work, etc.” - Raymund


Love in Action: Singaporean Volunteers Bring Joy to BMDK Children

Ten volunteers from A Call To Share (ACTS) Singapore visited the Busina Mo, Dunong Ko areas of Recto, NIA Road, South Triangle, and Pasay from December 10 to 13, 2013.   They gave the kids entertaining lessons in science and arts.   

Our Singaporean friends conducted storytelling sessions and taught the children and some mothers how to make paper puppets and colorful bead necklaces.  They also taught the kids fun facts about dinosaurs.   

The fun activities were capped by the distribution of gift bags and toys to the BMDK children. 

Our utmost gratitude to our Singaporean friends from ACTS-Singapore represented by Audrey Leong, Lorraine Lim, Stella Tan, Adelene Tan, Evelyn Nair, Joseph Tey, Janice Pua, Doris Yee, and Julia Lim.  Thank you for sharing your precious time and for bring smiles to the BMDK children. May God continue to bless you as you continue to share the joy of serving others! Hanggang sa muli! (Until we meet again!)


Love in Action: Ms Tess & Family Treat VIDES Kids

Last January 4, 2013, Busina Mo, Dunong Ko children from Pasay and NIA Road received a special New Year's treat from Ms. Tess Bernabe and her family. The kids actively participated in the fun games and activities prepared for them.  They also happily munched on the delicious food served with love. 

To show gratitude and appreciation, the children, with the Voice of VIDES Choir, rendered a special song number for the benefactors.

Much, much thanks to Ms. Tess Bernabe and her family for the awesome treat! It was a happy, memorable day for the kids, indeed!  


Love in Action: Ate Lezeil & Friends Visit Delpan

“It's not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for something. May I suggest that it be creating joy for others, sharing what we have for the betterment of personkind, bringing hope to the lost and love to the lonely.” 
- Leo Buscaglia
Bent on creating joy for others, sharing their blessings, and extending hope and love to the underprivileged, VIDES Philippines Treasurer and Board of Trustees Member, Lezeil Ebdane, and her classmates visited the Busina Mo, Dunong Ko children of Delpan, Manila last December 19, 2013.

The Ladies in Red (with the exception of Ate Lezeil who was wearing the yellow Live Jesus VIDES shirt) spread the spirit and joy of the Yuletide Season by treating the kids to a half day of fun and laughter. Everyone actively participated in the games and bonding moment. They also enjoyed singing and showing off their dance moves.

The activity was capped with the distribution of pear-shaped hams and grocery items which made the kids' and their families' noche buena extra special.

To Ate Lezeil and friends, we sincerely thank you for sharing your time and blessings with the underprivileged kids of Delpan. Thank you, too, for sending Christmas goodies to the children of NIA Road and South Triangle. More power! Live Jesus!