By Nenette Wallis

The Ilonggo Association of Victoria, Inc (IAVI) executive officers recently began a remarkable charity mission trip to the Philippines for the 31st time in three decades. Financial donations were equally distributed to all trustworthy charity partners who passionately and effectively manage the allotted funds, towards the upkeep and needs of the less fortunate aged citizens, families, and children.

Funds derived from IAVI various fundraising activities were personally hand delivered and presented to the charitable establishments that IAVI has supported for over 30 years – (1) Homes for the Aged at St. Vincent De Paul in Bacolod City, Asilo De Molo in Iloilo City, and Ladies of Charity in Roxas City; (2) Central Philippines University Scholarship Grant in Aide Program for deserving scholars/working students.

IAVI has also partnered with the Rotary Club of Jaro Centraline, Jaro, Iloilo City (President Evelyn Rose Catilo and VP Salvador Senorio) together with the Rotary Club of Brimbank Central (President Michael Donelly, Past President Lou Gionfriddo and Past President Bert Mom) in their various community projects for which this year has jointly donated two fiberglass rescue boats to the islands of Bayas and Manipulon in Estancia, Iloilo for saving the lives of local fishermen in time of calamities. IAVI is also an advocate of Gawad Kalinga (GK). They hold livelihood programs and build concrete dwellings for homeless families.

The IAVI Executive Committee headed by Melvin Espiga (President) along with Patsy Gutierrez (Vice Pres- Internal Affairs and head of GK in Victoria), Nenette Wallis (Vice President- External Affairs), Elaine Soriano (Treasurer), Susan Garsulao (Assistant Treasurer), Neds Sarcepuedes (Adviser) and Frances Espiga (Member) – were faced with significant physical and emotional challenges, whilst visiting the residents of Homes for the Aged, some of them in poor health and are frail, and assimilating and collaborating with poor families and children.

The Gawad Kalinga livelihood tour was an overwhelming experience, with each participant joining a designated family for lunch at their homes. The tour showed different villages and their livelihood programs, unique features and other activities: GK Milibili Village, soap making, and goldsmith specializes brazing and soldering metals for fencing; GK Dinginan Village, pillow-making enterprise and hand-woven straw mats; GK Buntod, colourful concrete dwellings and GK Gabuk, lunch distribution to poor elementary students donated by GK team and other donors.

The joint charity mission trip with Gawad Kalinga (GK) has solidified the organisation’s relationships with Jessica Uy (Head of Gawad Kalinga – Capiz) and her team; Marisa Vedar (President of Gawad Kalinga Australia) accompanied by Lilly Gillespie and Norma San Diego Santos (President of Ilocano Filipino Australian Association of Victoria Inc) with her sister Diwata Kottnig.

The January charity mission trip ended with a united vision to strengthen the organisation’s commitment and dedication to support the less fortunate aged citizens, families, and children in the Philippines.

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