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Sweeping Away The Dirt To Build Something Beautiful

Proud, gracious and giving are all words commonly associated with Filipino people and Cordencia M. Tado embodies that. The 74-year-old does not let age stand in her way as she strives to make her community in Magallanes, Tacloban better alongside All Hands Volunteers every day.

Mrs Tado, a resident of Barangay (Filipino terminology for a village) 58, where the Project Leyte team recently completed building a chapel, gave up her time each morning and afternoon six days a week to sweep and tidy the work site for the volunteers and carpenters.

It is her heartfelt way of showing appreciation for the ongoing work of All Hands Volunteers to help rebuild communities almost two years on from Typhoon Haiyan.

“I’m very lucky to have All Hands Volunteers here,” Mrs Tado said.

“It was my job before, I was a cleaning woman. I was a barangay cleaner for 20 years. But now I will happily do it voluntarily. If I was younger I would definitely volunteer with All Hands because I really want to.”

The Barangay Improvements Program, which Mrs Tado has become so attached to, is targeted in Magallanes, a coastal area of Tacloban that was wiped out by Typhoon Haiyan, and places a key emphasis on restoring people’s pride in their communities.

The team organizes clean-up drives in the communities they are helping. This counts as the first stage of each build, before the team then meets with people in the community to identify what they would like to see built. Once it is designed and agreed upon plans are put into action.

With a basketball court, playground, learning center and covered pathway already complete, the chapel is the fifth of eight sites to now finish and Mrs Tado quickly became a known face to all the volunteers and carpenters on site.

“When I wasn’t cleaning, I always stopped by to talk to the volunteers, to check on them, praise them and appreciate them,” she added.

“The residents here see the chapel is really beautiful and know they now have a place to do their mass and other prayer meetings. The barangay has always been very religious. This chapel gets renovated slowly every year by a sponsor family. They fix a part of the chapel bit by bit. But this is a big improvement. It’s perfect beauty.”

It is clear to see Mrs Toda and All Hands Volunteers share the same ethos in helping communities even if it can be portrayed as being on a smaller scale. For the 74-year-old, who moved to Barangay 58 from Manila with her husband in 1973, the involvement of the NGO has already helped to transform attitudes in the community.

“There’s a big difference in the community since I moved here. People didn’t care about each other before,” she added. “Now, especially in the presence of All Hands Volunteers, people have started caring again and also praising the job being done.”

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