I found time every year to do community projects in the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. It’s fulfilling to help others and give back to the community.
One particular outreach was different. I traveled to a rural community in Southern Luzon.
When I arrived in the community, kids ran towards me. They playfully grabbed my leg, pulled my arm and jumped behind me so I could carry them. A little girl took what we would take for granted—a piece of bread which I got from the airplane. She tore the bread piece by piece and walked around sharing it with the other children. That sight moved me. Their reaction to the piece of bread made me realize that it’s not enough to give people fish, we have to empower them to fish themselves. Change has to be sustainable.
In that program, I met Jen. She was a young woman who wanted a different life for herself outside of the confines of her village. She wanted to become an independent, selfsufficient woman. She had finished school on scholarship and now her dream was to find work in the booming semiconductor and electronics industry. For her, leaving her village meant overcoming her fears and seeing the world.
Listening to Jen’s hopes and dreams made me realize that, for some, working at a multinational manufacturer is actually the first step towards empowerment and a formal entry into the economy. For many, it is their dream to have that freedom. For a woman at the base of the pyramid, the opportunity in a factory is the way towards self-awareness, self-confidence and a life of opportunities.
Dan and I wanted to create a safe and supportive home away from home for women like Jen. Meeting her was a pivotal moment that inspired our decision to serve only women at our dormitory communities for the foreseeable future. (Story/Photos by: (Anacelle Layug)