A Hands-On Experience
By: Albert RJ O. Miranda
I have been wanting to do volunteer work for a long time, but it was only last May 12 that I was able to pursue it. I joined in the Habitat Youth Build 2012 project at Tanza, Navotas. What made this outreach activity more meaningful to me were the people I was with on that day: the Deaf-leader advocates and volunteers from the School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies (SDEAS). Our mission was to build houses for the families who lost their homes due to typhoon Pedring.
The Deaf volunteers I was with range from faculty, students to personnel. Initially, I was anxious because my proficiency in signing can be compared to a nervous tourist visiting France, who stutters as he tries to say s'il vous plaît to a local. As any Filipino Sign Language (FSL) learner knows; it is one thing to sign during FSL class, it is another when you actually go out there and converse with the Deaf. Nonetheless, I think I did just fine, thanks to my Deaf team mates who were very accommodating. I even did a bit of interpreting as I relayed some instructions from Habitat for Humanity staff (oh, I am sure my FSL teachers would be proud of me).
So there I was, literally with my hands full, mixing cement, fetching water, stacking hollow blocks and signing in between. The need to lift heavy materials seemed a light task as everybody was working with a smile. Our bodies were scorched by the sun but we remained cool. We have sweated buckets but because of the camaraderie among us volunteers, it felt like a no sweat experience.
I joined in the Habitat Youth Build 2012 to help others in need, but I was the one who gained a lot from the experience. The outreach program has given me a chance not only to build houses; it has also enabled me build my character as a person and fortified my relationship with the Deaf community.
ALBERT RJ O. MIRANDA works as a writer for the Center for Institutional Communications of DLS-CSB