JUVENTUS: Arts, mats, and an online platform

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Art has always been my comfort zone. It is a place where I can indulge myself with creativity and imagination, may it be in the form of culture, literature, painting, photographs, and more. Whenever I read or write a poem, I genuinely feel that I exist. When I capture photos and play with them, I feel a sense of purpose. Art makes me move forward.

With our lives significantly affected by the pandemic and the limited capacity to look for resources under the Enhanced Community Quarantine, the first thing that I asked myself was “What can I do to help?”

As someone who is a part of a middle-class family, I’m not entirely capable of donating a lot of money to charities so the one thing that popped in my head was to join online protests. I read articles from different websites and would formulate statements that would primarily call out government officials.

Using my social media accounts, I tried voicing out the needs of the Filipinos, especially the poor. By doing this, I was hoping that I can help even a little. A week went by, I began to be exhausted because of all the stress coming from the news. And boom! I realized that what I was doing was not good for my mental health so I decided to stop online protesting.

A few days after, I received a message from my mentor, Ms. Abigaile Capay, saying that she needs my help making pub mats for an online page she was starting with her friends. As someone who loves to make posters and design things, I immediately said yes!

There were a lot of discussions before Western Visayas Psychosocial Support for Covid-19 was established and I am glad to be a part of it. Western Visayas Psychosocial Support for Covid-19 is an online page that aims to provide psychosocial support during the pandemic. It offers free services and is composed of volunteer professional guidance counselors, psychologists, and psychometricians. Furthermore, it caters to clients all over Western Visayas – healthcare worker or not.

Along with my fellow undergraduate-volunteers, we would create various infomercials, posters, and interactive materials for our audience that are experiencing mental health concerns such as anxiety, insomnia, etc. I was also entrusted by my mentors to facilitate our online platform and task 2 (creative) volunteers.

Whilst volunteering for WVPS for Covid-19, I was also spending some time to support Project Lent. Project Lent or Project LNT is a student-run initiative that aims to lessen poverty by collaborating with other organizations and looking for sponsors to raise budget. The budget is then divided into the needs of our partners.

Currently, we are partners with the Handumanan and United Drivers Operators Center. On 29 March, 2020, we officially started to collect for donations in order to provide food packs for the drivers that were forced to stop working due to the ECQ. And as of 20, May 20, we have already spent P 81, 500 for two batches of meal packs for the drivers. Although there was a surge of donations during the first wave, the next waves became difficult because of donations-exhaust. But with the leadership and motivation of our founder, Jannele Jiminez, we are still passionate in continuing our mission.

My role in this organization is similar to WVPS for Covid-19. Aside from sharing posts and looking for donors, I as well help by making pub mats. Since most people nowadays are more engaged photo posts than text, we believe that pub mats are very important. Through these pub mats we are able to inform our audience of our schedule, a glance of history and statistics of a specific issue.

The pandemic has affected our lives in several ways – livelihood, health, economy, etc. and it is almost impossible to be hopeful when too many negative things pile up. In my perspective, this pandemic is more than being a ball of problems, but a challenge for us – to bring out our strengths, kindness and compassion towards people who need help.

As for me, I used my passion for art as a medium to give service to others. How about you? How will you choose to use your passion?

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” Maya Angelou

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