#HealthierPH Redefining Volunteerism in the Philippines
I’ve always been a big believer of Volunteerism. I think that if life has been good to you, it’s only right that you give back to those who haven’t been as lucky.
I also believe that the private sector should play a more active role in the development of our country. Just because we pay taxes, it doesn’t mean that we should just let the government take care of all the problems of society. I think they should take the lead, but there will always be gaps that they can’t fill and that’s where private individuals like us can do something that’s relevant.
Given my disposition, I said yes when the people from Nuffnang asked me if I wanted to attend an event hosted by Unliab Foundation. The invite wasn’t really clear as to what would be happening during the event but they did say that it was for a good cause and I couldn’t say no to that.
So despite the heavy traffic last Wednesday, I drove from Manila all the way to Pasig to attend the event.
#HealthierPH – Redefining Volunteerism
When I arrived at 1771 Sentro in Capitol Commons, I registered, met some people form Unilab Foundation and was seated at my table. I was also given a folder and inside it was everything I needed to know about the foundation, their projects, and the launch I was attending that night.
Being early, I started reading the documents in the folder. That’s how I first found out about #healthierPH. Up to this point I actually had no idea what it was that I was attending lol.
So what I was attending was the official launch of Unilab Foundation’s #healthierPH Volunteer Portal.
If you’re familiar with with the volunteer scene here in the Philippines, then you might have already heard of Hands on Manila and iVolunteer. #healthierPH is very similar to that except that right now, the projects in it are all ones initiated by the Unilab Foundation.
Basically it’s a convenient way for people to find volunteer opportunities. By going to their website and signing up, you can browse through all their existing projects, read up on them, and pick the ones that you want to volunteer in.
Normally what sites like iVolunteer and Hands on Manila do is provide an avenue for other organizations to promote their activities and programs. So they’re sort like a directory of NGOs and projects, where viewers can pick which ones they want to volunteer in.
What makes #healthierPH different is that it diverges from the usual notions of volunteering, which is physical work. Unilab Foundation believes that everyone should be given the chance to volunteer and that time, resources, and even age should not become an obstacle.
So within this portal there are projects and activities that require different levels of contribution. Some of them you can donate to, others might require physical work, and still others may only require you to share an event or do some other thing online.
The message basically is that everyone of us can do something. We don’t have to perform some great task to make a difference. Something as simple as sharing an event is enough to make a difference.
Unilab Foundation Expands into the Digital Space
The volunteer portal is also the foundation’s first venture into the digital world. They recognize that many Filipinos today are constantly online and that the online community will only continue to grow.
If they’re to achieve their goal of reaching as many Filipinos as they can, then all mediums must be used. So scary as it may be for them to venture online, according to their executive director, it is necessary.
“We’re not trying to reach just 1 person or 10 persons or even 100 persons, we’re tying to reach 100 million” – Rhodora Palomar-Fresnedi, Executive Director of Unilab Foundation
The Portal Provides a “Gamified” Experience
Another thing that makes Unilab Foundation’s Volunteer Portal unique is the incorporation of an engaging online game into the process of volunteering.
After signing up, volunteers will be given an avatar or rather a Voluntar (volunteer+avatar). This is their digital character in the online volunteer space.
People can choose the gender of the Voluntar and add their personal profile to it.
As part of the game’s leveling system, all new signups will start as a citizen. They can then continue to rank up by accumulating points. Points are received by performing simple tasks like sharing/tweeting an event or by volunteering for projects.
To get to the next level you need 100 points. There are a total of 5 levels, so after citizen you’ll become a community leader, then barangay captain, then mayor, and finally president of #healthierPH.
What are their Existing Projects?
Majority of Unilab Foundations projects are related to health. The official tagline of #healthierPH is actually “Redefining Volunteerism for a Healthier Philippines One click at a Time”.
I however wrongly assumed that their programs were limited to just focusing on Physical Health. One of their members explained to me that what they’re aiming for is holistic health, i.e. in body, mind, heart, and spirit.
They identify health gaps in marginalized communities where they can make the greatest impact. They approach their interventions in a very measured manner and aim to create ones that can be replicated by others.
Right now their programs are categorized into 5 major ones.
Play it Forward – This is a therapeutic and developmental play intervention. It has 3 sub categories.
- Play it Forward Pot Disaster – Unilab Foundation recognizes the healing effect of play and has come up with a curriculum designed to mitigate the long term effects of post traumatic stress. They currently have a play space built in a Gawad Kalinga managed site in Cagayan de Oro City.
- Play it Forward on the Move – This is the mobile version of play it forward. It is a play space designed to function as both a bag and a chair. It was built for fast response and ease of transportation.
- Play it Forward Hospitals – This is designed to improve specific outcomes related to q pediatric patient’s recovery. They currently have 4 Play spaces currently in operation within Metro Manila, these are at: The Fe del Mundo Medical Center; The National Kidney Institute; The Lung Center of the Philippines; and Rizal Medical Center.
Leadership Journey – This is a Leadership developmental program for Healthcare Professionals. The goal of this program is to educate doctors to enable them to become leaders in the healthcare industry. This is a 5 day journey that was created in partnership with the Singapore-based consulting firm, Except One Pte, Ltd.
Project Inclusion – A program that promotes the employment of persons with disabilities, particularly those with Autism and Down’s Syndrome. The Unilab Foundation believes that given the right conditions, employing a PWD can be beneficial to both the employer and the employee.
A study of this hypothesis has been published into a book entitled “From Exceptionality to Exception: Inclusion of Differently-Abled Persons in the Workplace” by the De La Salle University Publishing House.
Ideas Positive – This program is now on its 5th year and continues to empower the youth to tap into their creativity to come up with innovative solutions to health concerns in their community. Chosen groups partner up with the foundation and are trained and funded so that they can implement their ideas.
Byanihan Sagad – This is the senior citizen advocacy of Unilab Foundation and was conceptualized and implemented by the United Bayanihan Foundation (UBF). The goal of the program is to enrich the quality of life of senior citizens by empowering them to become more active participants in community building.
#healthishappening Habit Forming Challenge
During the event they also asked us to join their #healthishappening habit forming challenge. Participants basically choose a healthy habit they want to do and stick to it for 21 days.
I decided that I wanted to workout for 21 days straight to try and recover the everyday workout habit that I had in college. I’m on my 3rd day right now.
If you want to check out my Facebook Album for this challenge, you can do so by clicking this link: #healthishappening challenge Malds.
I’ll be coming up with another post about this one so be sure to stay tuned :).
I suppose that ends this post.
If you want to check out more pictures of the event, you’ll find them below.
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