Young minds pledge on disaster response projects

CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES —  One hundred nineteen youths last April 8 pledged to develop projects for disaster preparedness and humanitarian response for the next eight months as scholars of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) Young Minds Academy (YMA) Season 9.

This was after they signed a covenant during the YMA Alumni Engagement Awards at the RAFI Eduardo Aboitiz Development Studies Center (RAFI-EADSC) on Lopez Jaena Street, Cebu City.

“I expect to have fun, of course, and also to be challenged, to become a more responsible student, person and maybe then a future leader of the country if all things go well,” Jun Albert Pardillo, one of the scholars, said.

This season’s theme focuses on “urban development with emphasis on disaster preparedness and humanitarian response.” The scholars first signed the covenant before starting their YMA activities.

As part of the eight-month program, the YMA scholars are exposed to the localities in Cebu City to observe the actual situations in the community.

More than observing the community, however, the new YMA scholars are expected to come up with projects and solutions on disaster preparedness and response.

“The youth is the beneficiary of the change that, we, adults create. But instead of them just being the beneficiaries, we want the youths a component of that change,” RAFI president Roberto E. Aboitiz explained on why RAFI created the YMA program.

“We are here to commit ourselves and we are putting that commitment through signing (of the covenant),” RAFI chief operating officer Dominica B. Chua also said.

The YMA aims to produce individuals who are responsible and pro-active leaders, who are ready to give service to the public; who promote virtues of peace, pluralism, respect, and multicultural understanding.

“Sign it with a dream that you will become the best leaders that YMA has ever produced,” Chua said in challenging the scholars.

Mrs. Evelyn Castro, Eduardo Aboitiz Development Studies Center executive director, said that “the program is only as good as how much you put into it. Mura na siya’g bangko, kung wala kay i-deposito unsa may imong kuhaon? (It’s like a bank, if you have not deposited something, what will you reap?)

She reminds the scholars to get involved in the activities and learn from the leadership training camps and community outreach activities.

Recalling her experience in YMA, Season 8 alumnus Josephite T. Padillo said that YMA has served as an eye-opener to her.

“Every day, everything we see seems to be just passive, the pollution, illiteracy and other problems in the community. It is already blatant that we become used to it, we sometimes fail to realize that we can actually do something to change these things,” she expressed in Cebuano. (RAFI Communications, contributed photo)