After more than two years of lockdowns, quarantines and social isolation, nonprofit group I am M.A.D. (Making A Difference) revived its award-winning flagship program called MAD Camp with its first face-to-face community engagement held recently at Tampayan Elementary School in Magdiwang, Sibuyan Island, Romblon.
Awarded as one of Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (Tayo) in 2016 for Culture and the Arts, Peace and Human Development, I am M.A.D. regularly conducts a MAD Camp in key areas nationwide.
The community outreach program gathers volunteers together to facilitate values formation activities and engage schoolchildren age 10 to 12 with games, team building, storytelling and workshops.
“The past few years have overwhelmed most of us, leaving some with a feeling of isolation and a sense of cabin fever. We strongly believe that volunteering and coming together again physically can help break the spell, and I am M.A.D. has always been open to anyone who would like to be of service to others,” said Maco Ravanzo, cofounder and chief executive volunteer of I am M.A.D.
Many things have changed because of the pandemic, including observing minimum public health standards, but not the importance of community engagement. Community engagement has the ability to reconnect people at a time when a helping hand or a sincere smile is appreciated.
Volunteering even with some physical restrictions is a great way to interact again with the community as the COVID-19 pandemic wanes.
Although traveling in the era of COVID-19 creates much inconvenience with intensified local coordinations and activity protocols, this year’s 71st edition of MAD Camp in Romblon brought together 30 passionate volunteers from across the country, including six new recruits from Sibuyan Island. It was participated in by 53 schoolchildren who each received a Bag of Dreams gift set filled with school supplies and the activity booklet titled 10 M.A.D. (Munting Aksyon na Dapat) Gawin ng Batang Pilipino.
One of the highlights of the camp was a miniretreat and an emotional encounter with the students and their parents or guardians after the latter’s short session with the volunteers.
Adding value to communities
Completing the “voluntourism” (volunteer tourism) experience was a MADventure where volunteers had the chance to explore the raw beauty of Romblon by visiting some of its natural attractions, such as Dalipi River with the majestic Mt. Guiting-Guiting in the background, Sanctuary Garden, Lambingan Falls, Magdiwang Beach and Cantingas River.
Combining volunteer work with leisure travel is I am M.A.D.’s approach in securing participant-facilitators for its MAD Camp program.
The group hopes to contribute to this revival of voluntourism that, when well planned and managed, can benefit volunteers themselves, community segments, the business and hospitality sectors, and the local environment. —CONTRIBUTED
Support the organization by donating through bit.ly/bidadonate. Tel. 0977-8095093; email [email protected]; follow @IamMakingADifference on Facebook and @iammad_ph on Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok; visit bit.ly/IamMADYoutube, anchor.fm/iammad, bit.ly/MADTalksSpotify.