By Jessa Amedo

 An organisation that is successful is so because of the people. Their passion which fuel their ideas which informs their hard work all encourage success. People who work together in this way find themselves in a beautiful working relationship not only with each other, but also the people for whom they are working.

Gawad Kalinga is one such organisation. Gawad Kalinga (“to give care” when translated) is an organisation that aims to eradicate poverty and restore hope and dignity in the poor. Tony Meloto, the group’s founder, began this movement in the Philippines and because of its successes, it is now seen working in other developing countries.

 Volunteers of GK, come from many a place all over the world. Within major cities there is a GK group working hard to raise awareness for the movement, hopefully encouraging more volunteers to help in any way they can. Volunteers spend a lot of time planning and implementing events for raising awareness and funds, furiously thinking of how to improve the movement within their local area and all volunteers make the journey to a GK village in the Philippines or Cambodia or Papua New Guinea to see these ideas to fruition or to see GK in action.

 For any group to keep going strong, spending time with one another and getting to know each other beyond work needs to be invested. Which is why get togethers are important.

 On a very hot Saturday in late February, Gawad Kalinga Melbourne hosted a BBQ. It was an event to pull together the past, present and future volunteers of GK. It’s a chance to say hello to familiar and unfamiliar faces, it’s a chance to catch everybody up on what is happening within GK and importantly, it’s a chance to reignite the fire that fuels Gawad Kalinga. It cannot be helped that when you are surrounded by volunteers, you think about why you became a volunteer and why you are still one. All within a fun context. After all, Filipinos know how to have a good time.

 Given Melbourne’s notoriously unpredictable weather, the hot and sunny weather was welcomed by all in attendance. Perfect conditions for a BBQ at the park. The setting was the beautiful Boathouse in Kew, a central location that is easy to get to for everybody.

 The day went off perfectly, despite a few missed turns and ‘filo’ time, the event was a success. The food included some traditional Filipino dishes such as leche flan. The games were interesting and embarrassing because with those two components, laughs are sure to follow and there was general chit-chat amongst the group. As you listened around, you could hear the volunteers’ enthusiasm and passion building up once again with talks about their dreams for a better and improved society. It wasn’t the result of a conducted discussion but rather random conversations that happened to occur over grabbing plates and food, during eating, after playing games or by the water dispenser. It’s this kind of atmosphere that makes volunteers want to stay on, genuinely give a helping hand and provide strength to a worthy cause.

 If you are interested in volunteering for GK or would like to know more information, please contact Marisa Vedar on 0425 831 673 or Marylou Dellosa on 0408 679 566.

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