Though she is from a barrio called “Binuangan”, which literally translates to either fooled or taking something light-heartedly in the English language, Sheila Mae Dagondong, a 30-year old mother of 2 from Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte is very much serious in her advocacy to help her community in this trying times when the world is covered in fear by a pandemic.
The Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) has literally frozen life as we know it – establishments were closed, passenger vehicles were nowhere in the streets and highways, people stay indoors, the town was a bit of a ghost town, and the economy is at a brink of falling.
As a mother and a future educator, what concerns Sheila most is how it poses a threat to students’ education and development since they are on indefinite holiday break. She understands how important learning and education is as she, herself, also currently struggles to finish her studies for better future.
DOORS OF OPPORTUNITIES
All her life, Sheila has been a devoted follower of God. She serves in the Pentecostal church; she attends daily bible reading activities, youth camps, and other religious activities.
When she married her husband, Jeffrey, she has brought her entire family to serve the Lord as well. Together, they actively participate in church activities as the core foundation of their family relationship.
Their religious commitments and participations have enabled them to be part of their community even as a member of the Pure Bagobo tribe.
Since both of them have not finished their education, they had to strive to provide for their growing family. Jeffrey, as the head of the household, hits the road as a driver in order to bring food on the table.
In 2014, they became part of the country’s conditional cash transfer program, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) under the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer program for Indigenous People (MCCT-IP).
Sheila claims that being a member of the program opened a lot of doors of opportunities for her and her family. She was able to attend trainings that developed her skills and boosted her confidence such as Parent Leader training, ECCD training, and skills training on cookery among others.
The learning that she has acquired form these trainings have helped her in her own home and in leading the group of 4Ps members in her barangay.
She and her husband have also received a scholarship grant as members of a tribal group who are given priority opportunity by the school where she is enrolled in.
Currently, she is taking up Bachelor of Science in Education major in English.
Now that her husband, her children, and her self all go to school to finish their studies, Sheila thinks that she is much closer to the fulfillment of their individual and family goals.
And while it is difficult to juggle studies, work, and family, Dagondong family is all up to the challenge knowing that the government is on their back.
OUR LABOR IS NOT VAIN IN THE SIGHT OF GOD
Sheila has always believed that to serve the Lord, one must serve His people.
During the Community Quarantine period, she volunteered to be of service in the barangay by assisting in the orderly implementation of SAP, packing and distribution of relief goods in their area, and community cleaning as a safety measure against the virus.
She also volunteered to help monitor those who are in quarantine. Her main task was to keep track of the body temperature and report unusual conditions of the Persons Under Monitoring (PUMs).
Though she knows how dangerous the task is, not only to her but also to her family, she said that she must do her part in the name of bayanihan to heal from this crisis.
NEVER TOO EARLY TO EDUCATE
As a future educator, Sheila understands the importance of uninterrupted learning especially with children.
With COVID-19 lurking around, the government had ceased classes in all levels since mid-March. It is still uncertain when classes will resume or how classes will be back to normal. Nonetheless, Sheila believes that, with proper caution and safety protocols practiced, children may still continue learning amidst crisis.
Along other Parent Leaders and Pantawid members, they were able to gather a couple of children in their community and teach them moral values, art, and music while classes in their regular schools are suspended.
Sheila thinks that other than educational purposes, this is also one way to unload the stress amongst children brought about by the pandemic.
And though she is not yet a professional teacher, it is never too early to teach young minds especially in the situation that we are in right now.