It was a typical day for Caritas Manila volunteer Malou Olanga, with the exception of a slowly creeping summer heat as it was already March after all. But other than having to wear loose clothing and increase water intake, nothing affected her work much—and nothing would. Not yet, at least.
Like most days, she and her fellow volunteers went about their daily tasks. They were planning the next sustainable program for a community, setting up a feeding program for another. It seemed as if nothing could stop them. But what they didn’t know was that, in a few days, that commitment and dedication to helping others would be extremely tested. That normal for them would make a dramatic shift with potentially catastrophic consequences.
But Malou and the rest of Caritas Manila know better than to let fear overtake passion. They understand that it is in times like these—when poverty-stricken communities need help the most—their undying commitment to serve and compassionate hearts must not waver. So they marched on and powered through.
Embodying the spirit of service
“Minsan hindi rin kami sure sa safety namin pag pumupunta kami sa field, madaming pwedeng mangyari. Pero naniniwala ako na may nagbabantay at gumagabay sa amin palagi, kaya nagpapasalamat kami na safe kami lagi,” (We are sometimes unsure of our safety when doing field work – anything can happen. However, I believe that there is someone constantly looking out for us and guiding us, and for that I am grateful that we are always safe) explained Malou who has selflessly served with the organization since 2003.
Malou is a prime example of a Caritas Manila volunteer’s undying commitment to serve. Her spirit of service was awakened when she recovered from a week-long coma induced by a heart condition. As soon as she was granted a second chance at life, she immediately made a firm commitment to dedicate the rest of it to service. “Hangga’t makakaya, hangga’t malakas pa ko, hindi ako titigil mag-volunteer,” (As long as I can still still do this, as long as my body is still able, I will not stop volunteering) she affirmed.
It is through Caritas Manila’s community outreach programs that Malou and her fellow volunteers have found an ally that not only shared in their drive to make a lasting difference in the lives of those in need, but also guided them to grow holistically through various formation programs. “Ang sarap ng pakiramdam kapag nakakatulong kami sa mga community. Pakiramdam mo kaisa ka nila,” (Nothing compares to the feeling of being able to help out different communities. You feel like you are one with them) she shared.
An undying passion to refresh the world
Caritas Manila and its volunteers’ burning passion for helping others is parallel to that of Coca-Cola. In their shared mission of making a difference and refreshing the world, especially during times of crisis and disaster such as the COVID-19 pandemic, both organizations work hand in hand to ensure that immediate and sustainable support reaches those in need.
Together, Coca-Cola and Caritas Manila provided “Manna Bags” to over 25,000+ families to help meet their daily needs as this pandemic continues. Each Manna Bag contains five kilos of rice, munggo seeds, canned goods, fortified noodles, sugar, and salt enough for the one-week food supply of a five-person family.
An unwavering commitment to make a difference
Malou, Caritas Manila, and Coca-Cola have seen how volunteer work and collective action creates a ripple effect that can last lifetimes. Going beyond the numbers and figures and through their united efforts, families are fed and refreshed, smiles are spread across faces, and hope for a better tomorrow is restored.
“Organizations like Caritas Manila and amazing volunteers like Malou, give us hope for what we can do together to overcome challenges such as this,” said Winn Everhart, Coca-Cola Philippines President and General Manager. “We are ever thankful to continuously work with long-time partners like them, who enable us to make a difference in the communities we serve. In line with our mission to create a better-shared future, Coca-Cola will continue to support and work with partners like Caritas Manila to reach communities in need,” he added.
At present, Coca-Cola Philippines has partnered with several organizations for COVID-19 relief. Combined, their efforts have so far yielded 174,000+ PPEs for more than 51,000 medical workers, food packs for over 39,000 vulnerable families, and around 557,000+ litres of beverages distributed to 715+ hospitals, NGOs, local government units, and national government agencies.
Coca-Cola continues to increase its community support and is sharing updates as well as inspiring stories #ForTheHumanRace on https://www.facebook.com/CocaColaPhilippines