By Jazel Resurreccion Lustre

There’s no escaping the wrath of the Covid-19 pandemic, not even the Gilead Center in Pulilan, Bulacan.

Like what happened to its “mother institution,” the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI), Gilead’s resource-generating facilities has stopped earning for half-a-year now, no thanks to the lockdown.

Rowena “Ate Weng” Gaffud, the center administrator, dejectedly reported that reservations were cancelled, hence, business has not been as robust as before the pandemic.

When some events were cancelled during the first couple weeks of the pandemic, Ate Weng took it in stride. Of course, she acknowledged that they are definite setbacks, they’re nothing Gilead could not absorb.

Or so she thought.

The emergency measure of the Duterte administration in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus that people at first thought would only last a couple of weeks or so is now well on its sixth month. Still, the prognosis is not very encouraging—at least six months more.

This means Gilead will not be conducting its usual business anytime soon.

It’s a good thing Gilead has other options. For one, it is blessed with good soil and a good location, which is near the Bulacan River.

Many kinds of trees grow there—mango, malunggay, kalamansi, papaya, and others. Varieties of vegetables are also planted there.

If there are one or two things this pandemic taught us, it is that one must be flexible and resourceful. Instead of crying over the lost income opportunities because of unused facilities, the energy of KKFI employees in Gilead Compound must be put to a better use. And this they did.

Ate Weng and Kuya Tirso Estriba, who takes care of the farm, rolled their sleeves and went to work unperturbed. The former maintained the cleanliness of Gilead facilities despite having no activities, while the latter nurtured soil and ensure its bounty.

Even Ate Weng’s husband, Renante,  has been lending a hand to Kuya Tirso in cultivating the soil, planting vegetables, irrigating, and weeding.

Because of the pandemic, an erstwhile a stranger called the “internet,” became their friend. They do their research online and use the internet to access webinars and other instructional videos, such as, "How to grow veggies at home?" and the series on making organic and eco-friendly fertilizer and natural pesticide using things that can be found in farm.

They commune with the earth daily and this made them more sensitive to the environment. Every fruit of lime, banana, papaya, and avocado has become precious in them. Fruits from these seeds can mean survival for several families during this time of pandemic. The KKFI has been including fruits and vegetables harvested at Gilead. 

They also learned to be resourceful and frugal. Small things, like collecting vegetable and fruit seeds, became important. They learned that you will have something to eat if you just plant. Just work hard and you will survive. Galatians 6:7 says, “You will always harvest what you plant.”

Ate Weng and Kuya Tirso appreciate the arrangement of having their own respective turfs, so to speak. This allows them to meet their respective expectations and satisfaction in terms of quality of work.

So, they spent the lockdown period working as if nothing is happening, except that the usual guests are nowhere to be found and that the compound is unusually quiet and sans the noise of human activities.

The upside of this is that Gilead enjoyed the luxury of time to become more beautiful than before the lockdown. Thanks to their diligence and loyalty of Ate Weng and Kuya Tirso to their jobs, the center is ready whenever things become normal again and people begin to use the Gilead facilities once more.

I personally witnessed how these people persevered and worked hard to improve Gilead. You see, I stayed in Gilead and it became my home for almost a week. It really felt like home. Anytime I needed a break from an office task, I would simply step out and I am in wonderland.

Out there in Gilead, you can see beauty and God’s bountiful blessings. You only need to breathe the fresh air and gaze at the robust trees, brightly colored flowers, and green plants all around the compound and fatigue goes away.

I thank God for Gilead, which serves as a safe haven to the KKFI staff assigned in Bulacan.

This pandemic forced us to go back to nature, where we found literally hope and peace. After this crisis is through, the one lesson I will treasure in my heart is this: do not let any situation despair you but always pray.

This pandemic, too, will pass and Gilead will rise again—more beautiful, more productive, and more profitable.

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