By Jesse Allerton, Supervisor, Rotary Service Connections
One of the best aspects of my job is supporting and promoting Rotary Community Corps (RCCs). These are teams of men and women organized with the help of a sponsoring Rotary club to take action and improve their communities. RCCs empower their members to play an active and ongoing role in identifying and addressing their community’s needs. And they provide local leadership and sustainability to ensure that projects succeed.
On 22 August, I had the opportunity to attend a national Rotary Day in Manila celebrating the accomplishments of RCCs and other community service partners. The event was held at the Tuloy Foundation’s Don Bosco Streetchildren Village, an amazing nonprofit institution that has provided residential care and vocational training to more than 17,000 disadvantaged youth over the past 20 years. More than 600 Rotarians, RCC officers, and civic leaders came together for the event.
The day included a keynote speech by RI President Gary Huang, an address from the Vice President of the Philippines, Mr. Jejomar C. Binay (a Rotarian!), and inspirational remarks from Tuloy’s founder, Fr. Rocky Evangelista. Fr. Rocky shared the story of the Don Bosco Streetchildren’s Village, from its humble beginnings serving twelve children in a small room, to its present-day 4.5 hectare community, which serves up to 1,000 children at any given time. A group of the Tuloy kids put on a fun song and dance performance showing the confidence and optimism they’ve gained through this program.
The Rotary Community Corps program was first developed in the Philippines in 1986, and throughout the day, RCCs were lauded (in the words of one speaker) as “the Philippines’ legacy to humanity.” President Huang praised RCCs for “finding solutions, not excuses” for community problems. Incoming RCC officers had the rare privilege of being inducted into office on stage by RI President Huang and their country’s own vice president, Mr. Binay.
The Rotarians I met in the Philippines are truly some of the most friendly and hospitable people you could ever hope to encounter. While enjoying a Filipino lunch of lechon (crispy pork) and adobo (marinated chicken), I was introduced to several Rotarians who serve on the national RCC committee. They generously arranged to take me to visit several RCCs the following day.
The next morning, after several hours of driving through Manila’s notorious traffic, my hosts first took me to visit the RCC Amparo group, a collective of 8 RCCs whose members live in various public housing communities in Caloocan City. I was warmly greeted by the presidents of these RCCs and members of their sponsoring Rotary Club of Makati EDSA. They first took me to their meeting place, where each of the RCC presidents talked about the various projects their groups have been working on. We then visited one of the public housing communities where their members live and work on a variety of initiatives ranging from cleanup projects to building a children’s library to health awareness and medical outreach campaigns.
Our next visit took us several more hours into a rural, mountainous province to visit the RCC Calawis. RCC Calawis was sponsored just four years ago by the Rotary Club of Makati-San Lorenzo in a remote farming community. In that brief time, the RCC members have carried out a wide variety of agricultural and livelihood-building projects, which they proudly showed us. With the help of seed funding from The Rotary Foundation and the Rotary Club of Taipei Capital in Taiwan, the RCC grows crops like yams and taro for sustenance, bamboo for artisanal crafts, and fruits like papaya and rambutan for sale in local markets. After a scenic uphill hike visiting these projects, our hosts treated us to an amazing meal of rice, fish, and (of course!) adobo, cooked outdoors and served on a table of banana leaves.
All of the wonderful conversations and interactions I had with RCC members and their Rotarian partners during my time in the Philippines reinforced my admiration for this amazing program, which expands and multiplies Rotary’s community impact in ways that clubs can’t do on their own.
A special thank you to all of my kind hosts in Rotary District 3830—especially the Rotary Club of Makati EDSA, the Rotary Club of Makati-San Lorenzo, the RCC Amparo group, and RCC Calawis—for taking the time to show me around and sharing all the incredible work they do.