NCA Leadership Journey 10 Companion Meryl Grace Agudelo shares what keeps her doing what she does. Meryl is the Chief Changemaker of I CAN Make a Difference Inc. and a volunteer of the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation.
I had the chance to change the trajectory of some lives for the better, how can I not want that? For someone who grew in a place where there are so many wrongs, is running away the most logical thing to do? I think not. The most logical thing to do is to find a way to make things right.
I probably won’t be saying these two or three years ago. I’m a fresh graduate from the University and I am just so excited to see what is in store for me ahead. Michael, a good friend and mentor, called me up one morning and told me he needed help in doing a scientific research that can potentially bring down the alarming number of water borne diseases in Lakewood. It will be through Solar Disinfection (SODIS) using aluminum soda cans. I said yes because I sincerely want to help him finish his requirements for medicine school. So when we established I CAN Make a Difference, it wasn’t because we wanted to change the world but because we wanted to save some lives. It wasn’t in the prospect of a superhero thing but largely because we were there when the opportunity struck. So I guess sometimes, you don’t get to pick your calling or mission in life. It picks you.
Our YES to solar disinfection project led us to create more social projects that address maternal mortality, accessibility to education to working opportunities for differently abled individuals. We engaged more and more young individuals both students and young professionals to volunteer their time and resources in projects that uplift the marginalized sectors.
The journey to where I am now was not easy. I can point you to several instances where I wanted to bail out and walk away. It was very tempting to just leave especially when self-doubt creeps in, when people are rude and when everything seemed so hopeless, after all I’m just volunteering my time. I already have a job that pays the bill and provides me with a relatively comfortable life; I have what I need. But then, I think about Jamil, the little boy we constantly interact with in Layag-Layag; I think about Jocelyn and Suzhette who finally earn a decent income for their families; I think about Hannah who now enjoys the books and toys in the library. I think about these people and tell myself if I can just endure a little more and persist a little harder, then maybe a few more people will get to enjoy their basic rights. Maybe a few more people will begin to aspire some more and dream some more. Wouldn’t that be a nice thing to look forward to every day – to see more people being empowered because of the little things you do? This is the simple reason why I do what I do.
I am very lucky that when God gave me this mission, He also sent people who were constantly there to guide me, cheer me up and scold me when necessary. People who bring out the sunshine in every day. People who loved me not despite of my imperfections and fears but because of them. In the past two years I have been volunteering for I CAN Make a Difference and Yellow Boat of Hope, I have grown exponentially in faith and in spirit. I was challenged, pushed and pulled in ways that would have baffled my 22 year old self. But I am glad to be actively living my life for myself and for others, and If I’m asked to change anything for the better, other than the current situation of Zamboanga, I wouldn’t want it any other way!