VIDES Pinoy Volunteers' Corner: Marian Belarmino's Visit to Geneva

You never really know where VIDES can take you if you’re a volunteer. Some days, you can be riding the mobile library and going around the metro to visit the kids. Maybe you joined the mission camps and mangrove-planting activities and find yourself somewhere in Mindoro, Pampanga, Cebu or some other part of the country. Or like me, by God’s grace, and with the full support of the VIDES family, you may suddenly find yourself giving a speech at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

What’s in Geneva?
Before anything else, let me explain what was going on in the United Nations during my stay there. It was the 34th Session of the Human Rights Council, and Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice (IIMA), VIDES International, and the Permanent Mission of El Salvador co-organized a side event called, “Youth for Human Rights and the Good.” This side event was created to give the young people the opportunity to be heard by the States regarding their role in human rights and human rights education. It goes mostly unnoticed, but really, young people are often not talked about during human rights sessions. There’s only the children (below eighteen years old) and adults. We don’t realize that young adults cannot be fully adults just by turning eighteen, and so they have their own needs and challenges in relation to human rights. And by this initiative, IIMA and VIDES International gathered together ten (10) youth of today from different parts of the world to represent and talk about their human rights education experiences. That’s where I enter the story. We dedicated a whole week, from March 13-17, 2017, to fully prepare and present on the two-hour side event.


Mangrove & Beach Forest Development Project @ Calapan, Oriental Mindoro

Sixty volunteers traveled to Tahik, Baruyan, Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro to support the Mangrove and Beach Forest Development Project of the local government last April 22 to 23, 2017.  Despite the difficulty encountered in reaching the area and in the actual planting due to the rapidly rising waters, the group was able to successfully plant a total of 1,000 mangrove seedlings.