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Women in the service of others

By MONIQUE TODA, The Philippine STAR Published May 15, 2021 5:00 am

I am overwhelmed by the goodness in people. I know it is out there but it gets me every time and I find myself surprised — in a positive way, of course.

An example is the community pantries and the spirit behind it. I get choked up when I read about people sharing whatever they have from all walks of life. It is reassuring to know that kindness is all around us.

At the end of this pandemic and the whirlwind of chaotic issues, I would like to think that humanity will define itself with its good deeds.

I call it a bandwagon of kindness because COVID isn’t the only thing infectious. Behind these charitable movements are those who devote themselves by actively participating to help people in the different sectors of our society.

This leads me to these five ladies who have shared their goodness by dedicating themselves to causes that alleviate the lives of many. In my opinion, they should be today’s idols because of their hard work and selflessness. These inspirational women get things done and are focused on being of service. Let’s get to know them and their efforts.

Cara Wilson

FTW (For the Women) Foundation co-founder and executive director

 Co-founder and executive director of FTW (For the Women) Foundation Cara Wilson

FTW Foundation’s mission is to change women’s lives through free intensive tech skills training that enables upward career mobility. They rigorously select and train deserving women in high-demand profiles —in particular, Data Science.

The foundation has an 80% job placement rate and a 138% average earnings increase for their graduates after a 14-week program (as of December 2020). It has trained more than 100 women since they began in October 2018. Furthermore, the FTW family continues to grow and support one another. All graduates come back as teaching assistants for the next group of scholars. 

 FTW (For the Women Foundation) co-founders Derya Tanghe and Paco Caparas

Cara Wilson lived in Italy for 22 years where she met many talented and resilient Filipinas. A number of them had reached college in their education and some were even college graduates. Even with that, they had to do domestic work, leaving their families behind. Cara saw this as having a huge negative social effect of broken families and a talent drain for the Philippines.

This vicious cycle of women leaving their families seems to continue from one generation to the next due to the lack of promising career opportunities in the country. I wanted to be a part of a solution to this. Many highly motivated women want to up their skills and switch into data careers but just don’t have the resources to do so. That is where FTW comes in,” she said.

 Cara Wilson with graduates of FTW Foundation

It is heartwarming for Cara when she receives messages from FTW graduates telling her how their lives have changed for the better and how fast this change happened. “Women are the magic bullets of development because their success has such a positive ripple effect on their own families and community. For The Women, For The Win, For The World!”

To learn more and contribute, go and click donate now, or go straight to FTWdonate. You may also email [email protected].

Maitoni CuUnjieng and Tina Romualdez

Milvidas Livelihood Program at Aya’s Gawad Kalinga Village founders

 Sisters Maitoni CuUnjieng and Tina Romualdez are behind the Milvidas Livelihood Program at Aya’s Gawad Kalinga Village in Parañaque.

Sisters Maitoni del Rosario CuUnjieng and Tina del Rosario Romualdez started the Milvidas Livelihood Program with the ladies of Aya’s Gawad Kalinga, a community in Multinational Village, Parañaque, in April 2011. Milvidas means “a thousand lives” and represents the sisters’ dream of making a difference.

They chose to teach crochet because it was an easy skill to learn and had many practical applications in everyday household items. They began with a few ladies and now have a steady group of 26 individuals making coasters, napkins, bags, hand towels, among other lovely items. The women in the program work from their homes during their free time. They now do embroidery and macramé as well.

Their products are available for sale through the del Rosario sisters, in-home sales, and online stores. Proceeds from the sale of Milvidas products go to supporting and maintaining a school for the young children of the village and to providing assistance and relief to the community whenever necessary. The mission of Milvidas is: bridging lives, building dreams, bringing color, and individual expression to everyday items one stitch at a time.

 The ladies from the Milvidas Rina Lopez Livelihood Program have wonderful home products.

Maitoni says, “We want to make a difference in the lives of these ladies. Not only do we want to provide a source of income, but by learning a new skill and striving for quality and excellence in their work, we hope to instill in them a sense of accomplishment, self-worth and dignity.”  

 Milvidas pretty glass huggers

Spending time with the ladies also allows the sisters to nurture personal relationships. “We find ourselves providing guidance and assistance in other areas of their lives. Assisting them where their children are concerned always leaves a special feeling in our hearts,” adds Tina. 

 Super colorful and cute coasters from the Milvidas Livelihood Program

For donations or to actively help the Milvidas Livelihood Program, email [email protected] or call 0917-8106207 or 0917-8832022.

Rina Lopez

Knowledge Channel Foundation Inc. president and executive director

 Rina Lopez, president and executive director of Knowledge Foundation

The Knowledge Channel Foundation, Inc.  (KCFI), established in 1999, is a not-for-profit organization that works to help uplift the life of the Filipino through the transformation of the learning environment with educational media and technology.

It develops and distributes curriculum-based multimedia learning resources (videos, games, session guides, etc.) for preschool, K-to-12, and the Alternative Learning System, through various platforms online, on-demand, and on-air via the Knowledge Channel. KCFI also provides capacity-building programs for teachers, education leaders, child development workers, and parents.

 Rina Lopez says the expressions of gratitude from students are so heartfelt

Rina Lopez chose to support the education of public school students 22 years ago: “I believe that an educated citizenry is the key to the development of our country and the only way to sustain its growth. A good education is not a privilege but a right of every Filipino. When I see the lack of learning resources and teaching capabilities in schools and child development centers all over the country, this is where I choose to help.”

 Rina Lopez brings the Knowledge Channel to the remote areas of the country.

Rina travels to the remotest places in the country to bring the Knowledge Channel to public schools. Sometimes she travels on rocky roads for hours and even to rebel-infested towns.

“While I bring a TV and a satellite dish or other platforms to these schools, they tell me what I bring is hope, what I bring is love. When I go to these places, their embrace and their expressions of gratitude are deep and heartfelt.” When told that she has changed the lives of many, she says that her life had also been changed. 

For those who want to actively participate or for more information, [email protected] Donations can be made to BPI Account No: 0201-0409-14.

Raïssa Hechanova-Posadas

BSL Persons with Disabilities and Co. Inc. president

 Raïssa Hechanova-Posadas is the president of BSL Persons with Disabilities and Co. or PerDisCo.

The BSL Persons with Disabilities and Co. (PerDisCo) is a barangay-based organization established almost 15 years ago as a support group for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) and their family members. It aims to protect and promote the rights of PWDs and help them participate in society to their fullest potential. PerDisCo helps PWDs to receive their government benefits, organizes events aimed at improving their overall wellbeing, and holds outreach programs with the special education departments of Makati public schools.

 This young man will soon get a prosthesis for his leg care of PerDisCo. He will need special prostheses for his arms as well.

Raïssa Hechanova-Posadas got involved in this cause due to a personal experience. “Seven years ago, I suddenly became a PWD due to a visual disability. While on vacation in Europe, I suffered from an unexplained severe infection that resulted in sepsis and eventually total vision loss in my right eye in just a matter of days.”

A year after, she joined the PerDisCo because she wanted to learn to deal with her sudden disability. At the same time, she wanted to support its PWD members who had mental, learning, and psychosocial conditions.

 Art classes with PerDisCo’s PWDs

Her work with PerDisCo fulfills her in many ways. It’s a shared advocacy with her father who also actively supports PWDs through his Rotary Club. She also considers the beneficiaries as her “kids” and loves that they are engaging and refreshing. She would like to see more job opportunities open up for PWDs. There is a lack of awareness of the law which mandates government offices to reserve one percent of all positions for PWDs, and encourages private corporations to do the same.

PerDisCo will soon be organizing an online bazaar or a pop-up to raise funds. Parties interested in participating as sellers or in making a donation you can email [email protected]