At VMware, our giving is rooted in a concept, called “Citizen Philanthropy,” recognizing that we all have something we can contribute to the community. Connect with members of the VMware ASEAN Citizen Council, as they share their service learning contribution with GK1World.
Group: ASEAN Citizen Council
Purpose: VMware Foundation liaison in South East Asia
Office Location: Singapore, but we enjoy connecting with our offices in the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.
Years at VMware: Our team has been bringing energy to the business for 3 years!
Favorite quote or motto: “We define development not in terms of money. We define development in terms of restoration of human dignity and quality of life”. – Tony Meloto – Gawad Kalinga Founder
How would you describe what the ASEAN Citizen Council does at VMware?
Through the ASEAN Citizen Council, we look to increase engagement and people-led giving initiatives around our region in collaboration with the VMware Foundation. The Academy of Management Journal (2008) discovered that the ‘Opportunity to give increases commitment to a company.’ We want to give that opportunity to our employees and make VMware a great place to learn and grow. Our team brings happiness to the community and to our coworkers through the empowerment of individuals who lead beautiful initiatives that change the world.
What is meaningful about your group’s work?
As a Citizen Council, we get to work on projects that are close to our hearts. We have the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with organizations that change the lives of people in our communities – it’s rewarding to be part of that change. The excitement and interest around the VMware Foundation and the work of the Citizen Council from new and tenured employees makes our roles all the more special. The most rewarding aspect about our work is the direct engagement with the communities in which we work and live and being able to bring positive changes to these communities’ lives.
In 2013, you all participated in a Service Learning activity. Can you share how your group contributed back to the community and what everyone learned through that experience?
In July of 2013, 10 VMware employees from our Singapore and Philippines sites embarked on a journey to the Philippines that changed our lives forever. Planning for the trip started about a month in advance. We wanted to leverage the five days that VMware employees are granted each year to contribute something back to a local community in our region. From the beginning, our goal was to live with the community so that we could understand it better and build sustainable things together. After a couple of weeks spent on research, we engaged with GK1World, which is widely known in the Philippines for its philanthropic work. Even though the rainy season was in full swing and with no other dates to choose from, we decided to go for it!
The GK site was 40km south of Manila, had 47 families living there and plans for 160 new houses, a school and communal area. In order for each family to obtain the right to move into one of the homes, they need to spend 1,000 hours working on the overall construction and a total of 2,500 hours of contribution to own it. After reaching 1,000 hours, a family can draw a key from one of the ready built houses to find out which one will belong to them. The model of not knowing which home will be yours helps to make sure everybody is motivated to do quality work while building each of the houses.
Immediately after arrival to the site, we received a warm welcome and got to know our host families over the next five days. Our daily life started with the sunrise when most of the village was waking up. From there we went and retrieved water from the well to take bucket showers, had a quick morning chat with the families through broken English-Tagalog conversations and played with the most adorable kids. After short breakfasts we were ready to work. We aided the construction by mixing cement, plastering, and digging holes for the foundation of the houses. Occupied by hours of sweat and a couple of blisters, we were able to achieve a visible impact through the completion of several floors, walls and the foundation. This could not have been possible without the guidance of several patient local builders.
The first part of each day was concluded with a delicious lunch served in huge amounts. Chicken adobo was one of our favorite meals. During the second part of the day we spent time with the local kids and participated in a variety of activities including crafts, blowing bubbles, balloon fights, kites and playing with balls. One of the biggest attractions was a Polaroid camera that we took with us in a last minute decision. Since there are no mirrors in the village, you could tell from kids’ expressions that for some of them this was the first time to see what they look like. It was simply priceless to witness this moment. Our days were finished with supper and a sharing session during which we could reflect on the daily activities and share our thoughts and emotions experienced during the day.
Throughout our short stay, most of us did not realize how fast we got used to the basic conditions of living and appreciating simple things in life like sharing a meal. We were able to share our happiness and help improve the living conditions, bring hope and smiles to people’s faces. At the same time we realized again how important it is to give back and spend quality time with people around us by working and having fun together. The last day came sooner then most of us expected and by mid Friday we had to say an emotional goodbye or rather ‘see you soon’ since most of us felt like we were at home there and wanted to visit again.
This experience will stay in our hearts and minds for a long time. We would like to thank VMware and Gawad Kalinga for giving us the opportunity to make it happen as well as special thanks to Olga Specjalska for organizing this activity.
What advice would you give to people who have the intention to volunteer, but just can’t find the time?
If you have the intention – just make it happen. There are many different ways in which you can contribute. Our first suggestion would be to plan early. We are all busy and our calendars fill up pretty quickly, but if you plan ahead and commit some time in advance for volunteering you will most likely make it happen. Secondly, if you really can’t find time, you can choose projects that would allow you to contribute in a different form – researching, preparing communications, getting supporters for an idea or donating items. Another option is to enable organizations that are already doing a great job on the ground through donations. If you really don’t have any time to volunteer, making a monetary donation is a great way to enable other’s to spend time on hands-on activities.
Now in 2014, can you share what’s next for you, your team or VMware?
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