It never ceases to amaze me how quickly people have banded themselves for the good of others during this COVID-19 pandemic. Donations, either in cash, kind, or skills, continue to pour in as tales of kindness and compassion from those who are able to help flood my timeline. I have written about the gallantry of some of these people in my previous columns and I wish my space could accommodate and identify the rest of these individuals who have made a difference in the lives of those in need in their own ways. While contributions today may not be as frequent compared to the earlier weeks of the pandemic, appeals for donations continue as we are nowhere near the end of this health crisis.
How then do we mitigate the donor fatigue syndrome? How do we efficiently utilize all this information about help and donations to match the donor to the recipient? A group of young professional volunteers saw the need to aggregate all the information on COVID-19 response in the country and started an information hub to connect people at home to those who are in need on the frontlines.
Helpfromhome.ph connects individuals and institutions to those most in need: frontliners and communities at risk. It contains listings of publicly accredited organizations in the country seeking donations that can sustain, feed, and protect the most vulnerable. It also promotes transparency through the information provided, which also helps address the gaps through public support.
Volunteers behind HFH have expertise in community organizing, operations, government relations, and communications, making the platform a reliable source of information to help mobilize resources in support of COVID19-related projects. To date, HFH has verified more than 150 initiatives since their launch late March. These organizations aim to provide frontliners and families at risk with all forms of support — protective gear, food, transportation, financial aid, and more.
Mobility is one of the challenges during this ECQ and according to HFH, several organizations have already signed up to help ease this transport problem. While there are several transport groups willing to take our frontliners and health workers to and from their work places, I noticed that there are several volunteer groups which created a more eco-friendly way to transport our frontliners by using bicycles.
Lend-A-Bike, a group led by cycling enthusiasts, encourages the use of bicycles as an alternative mode of transportation for frontliners by gathering funds to provide bicycles to LGUs and institutions. Another group called Life Cycles PH share the same aim by matching the bike lenders directly to the intended users. Pope (@popetheperson on Instagram) of Art4Transport does a similar thing of raising funds by commissioning her line art portraits and donating 100 percent of this to the project to secure bicycles and help PUVs drivers who have been displaced because of the quarantine.
Going through the HFH website, one can see how both the private and government sectors can employ this site in order to track goods and services that are being donated and received. It will be even easier for the general public to identify which areas need PPEs or masks, which hospitals have received supplies, or which frontliners need to borrow a bike. But since this was started by volunteers, I hope the government or the private sector will help keep the project going by providing the necessary funding to keep the website live. I call on DSWD or DILG to seriously consider collaborating with the HFH team as it will help streamline response efforts in the long run.
I think HFH has attracted around 300 volunteers at this point and while most of them, I am sure, would want to stay and sustain this project, the reality of the matter is once this lockdown is over, they will have to go back to their “new normal” lives. And it would be a loss not to pursue this project as it has already gotten momentum as the most comprehensive information hub on COVID-19 response in the country. These are dark and critical times but it is during these moments when the greatest possibilities open and one can start simply by helping from home.
The author may be reached at [email protected].