At the start of the year, the atmosphere in the compound of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) was filled with excited anticipation. It will celebrate its 70th anniversary come July. Seven decades of existence. What a milestone!

Around that time, there were already sketchy news stories about a previously unknown virus wreaking havoc in an obscure city in Wuhan, a city in central China province of Hubei.

Filipinos, however, were blissfully unconcerned by such talks. “Not a threat at all,” they told themselves. “It’s China’s problem, not ours.”

Then, last January 30, a Chinese woman from Wuhan visited the Philippines. The coronavirus disease we have since become all too familiar with, the Covid-19, has invaded our archipelago.

Then ominous Ides of March came and all hell broke loose. That was when President Rodrigo R. Duterte locked Metro Manila down in an attempt to control the spread of the fatal virus.

Commercial activities halted. Measures to prevent people from congregating were put in place, including church gatherings. When the government closed the schools down, KKFI began to really feel the brunt of the crisis. The KKFI is blessed for owning a 6,800-square-meter property at the heart of Manila’s University Belt. It operates dormitories and rents facilities used by students from nearby universities. Students are the lifeblood of the Foundation.

When schools closed down, KKFI’s commercial activities came to a sudden halt. With the dramatic dip in its income came tragic developments. The Foundation was forced to reduce its staff by a third. Those who remained were in constant fear of being next on the chopping board.

The year 2020 was proving to be a horrible, horrible year in many aspects—emotionally, mentally, economically, professionally, socially, and even spiritually. The horrors are still going on and no one can tell when it’s going to end.

The staff tried its best to lend a helping hand to its usual beneficiaries and the new ones (since everyone, sparing none, was in need of assistance).  We initiated fund-raising campaigns for relief assistance to the poor and the vulnerable in Manila and Bulacan, we held crash courses for all staff members in psycho-social interventions to help people cope with the stresses of the pandemic, we intensified the livelihood projects to provide alternative income sources for those who lost their jobs and we acquired new skills specifically video production for online education. 

I cannot help but admire the staff’s dedication and their flexibility. The programs I mentioned above are formulated at moment’s notice so that KKFI could remain relevant and responsive to the people’s needs. They made the extra mile without any complaint nor question and they made it splendidly!

All throughout the ongoing ordeal, they willingly and wholeheartedly sacrificed their own comfort and safety in doing their respective jobs. In spite of their own pains, they focused on doing their avowed duty to help others.

The lack of transportation forced some to work from home. Others walk for more that an hour in the morning to get to their workplace and walk again the same distance back to their homes at night. Everyone accepted new tasks with the determination to do them well. The management made judgment calls because situations call for such risks.  

Yes, we dared to make leaps of faith, but there are others who believe in what we did. I thank the local and international partners who helped fund our projects and operation.  You are God-sent.

In the next days and weeks, we will post stories that document the brave efforts of KKFI staff members and partners in their efforts to help the vulnerable sectors and their poor beneficiaries cope with this unfolding tragedy we call  our “KKFI: Covid-19 Chronicles.”

Half a year has passed yet new and unprecedented challenges kept coming the way of KKFI. The Covid-19 crisis has not gone away and experts predict it will stay well into the second or third quarter of next year.

The 70th anniversary of KKFI came and went without a whimper. The 71st is still a big question mark. The Covid-19 pandemic has successfully turned the world upside-down and inside-out. Futurists predict that the world will never be the same again.

How about KKFI? Will it ever be the same again?

It depends of the needs of the communities under the so-called “new normal.” KKFI always strives to be responsive to the needs of its beneficiaries. Programs may change, modes of service delivery may vary, but there are things that do not and must not change.

If there is one thing that I am sure will stay the same is KKFI’s mission to help the needy. No pandemic can change that.

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