This is my first time to deliver a testimony about my HIV status in front of several unfamiliar faces since I was diagnosed. It feels like I am transported back to a time wherein I am lying on a bed and some of the patients near me were slowly dying. I’ll never forget how life consumed each and every soul beside me. I can hardly see the difference between what I went through on that situation and the feeling I have right now. The similarity is so uncanny that it gave me chills just thinking about it.
Contributed by: Joan delos Reyes Bassig
When you’re burnt out from work, what do you do? When you’ve come to realize that no matter how much you love what you do, working 12 hours a day will not bring you success the way you thought it would. What now?
I decided to volunteer. I had a good talk with a friend of mine whom I haven’t seen for a year. He’s been doing volunteer work at PAFPI and he showed me his plans to help PAFPI become a sustainable NGO. Growing up, my mom would encourage us to volunteer to various churches and school activities. So I thought, this should be pretty straightforward.
It was not; it was more like learning a new culture, with its own language and expressions. Every Friday at PAFPI takes me to the Land of Sailor-moon, costume play and the like. Sex is always the hottest topic, next to hot celebrities and beauty pageants, both local and international. Now and then someone would start to catwalk and everyone else would follow suit. Suddenly, a flash of nostalgia would creep up, of a life that was. I can feel their pain, it’s overwhelming. I am learning a lot from these people; life, love, acceptance, family, sacrifice, hope and so much more. I love every minute of it.
One of the most prominent ways in order for college professors to give their students a high grade is a research paper or a thesis containing a topic untouched by many. This is what transpired for the past few months of seeing students from different universities, come and go at the drop-in centers of Positive Action Foundation Philippines, Inc. (PAFPI).
For the past few months of being a volunteer for Positive Action Foundation Philippines, Incorporated (PAFPI), I’ve seen people from different walks of life share their stories to motivate newly diagnosed HIV positive individuals. Not only are they opening themselves to the possibility of new found friendship, but most importantly to give a physical and visual illustration of how a person living with HIV (PLHIV) regain the strength and confidence to continue what they started.
Helping others may seem like you are on a charity event, but there’s more to helping than spending time and energy for a cause. Perhaps one of the things that I learned from volunteering for PAFPI is the real meaning of contentment and joy. I’ve been consumed with activities involving learning group sessions and focus group discussions that I forgot how contented I am with what I have been doing.
Volunteering gave me a new meaning to the word ‘growth’ in which I don’t need to gain financial incentives in order to feel productive, happy and satisfied. Simple things that I already am experiencing through helping people who share the same situation as mine and people who are affected by it.