Voluntourism Philippines.

Experiencing the Joy of Community Service at a Young Age

A child can also serve the community in his or her own little and playful ways. This is so for five-year-old Izyan Alcaraz, the youngest member of Trail to Empower Kids (TREK).

Izyan and his mother, Ega Alcaraz, are active members of TREK, a non-profit organization established in 2007 that reaches out to isolated communities in the Philippines.

Izyan Alcaraz, considered as the baby of Trail to Empower Kids (TREK), playfully blows the whistle. Photo taken during TREK's trip to Calintaan, Mindoro by Alfred Limos.
Early Introduction

Ega shares that she always brings Izyan and his older brother, Jam, to the TREK expeditions, which entail traversing rivers and climbing mountains to deliver toys, schools supplies, and hygiene materials to their beneficiaries.

Ega shares that Izyan had his first outdoor experience on his second birthday.


Even at the tender age of two, Izyan has the capacity to connect with other children, even when they do not understand each other’s languages.

Their common thread, Ega shares, is the universal language of play.

Ega says that minutes after they arrive in a certain community, Izyan can be seen playing with other kids.


Izyan (first row, center) comfortably sits and mingles with the Binanog children from Calinog, Iloilo. Photo by Ralph Perez.
Izyan welcomes all kinds of children in his life. Ega says that in Sta. Elena, one of TREK’s partner communities, the boy struck a friendship with a child with special needs.

“For him, there is no sense of discrimination,” Ega notes.  


Caring for Others

Ega continues to instill values in Izyan even in daily life. The mother of two shares that in their car, they keep snacks that they give away to the less fortunate. 

Izyan (third from left) holds a mini stick while playing with the kids of Tinglayan, Kalinga.
And on Jam’s and Izyan’s birthdays, they would provide food to the entire elementary division.

Ega shares that hopefully these acts of kindness have made her youngest son imbibe the spirit of compassion.

“This early, he has recognized selflessness. We need to take care of others,” Ega shares.


Benefits

By involving her children in civic works, Ega was able to foster a close relationship with her two sons.

Izyan (second row, third from left) is surrounded by the children living in Tinglayan, Kalinga.
And because Izyan was exposed to people early on, he has developed social skills. Ega shares that he is a well-adjusted child who can express himself easily to people, regardless of age.

Ega did not spare Izyan from seeing the realities of poverty and isolation. In effect, Ega says, Izyan knows how to count his blessings.

Ega says that even the old can glean insights from the young ones. She certainly has by watching the lives of Izyan and Jam.

“We can learn from children. Every trip we make, we have different experiences,” she says.
Izyan spends time reading at Balbalan, Kalinga, one of TREK's partner communities.
 







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Anna Pangalangan Anna Pangalangan Author

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