Tip to Filipino groups abroad: Get more organized for more impact

MANILA–Making a Filipino organization abroad grow for a certain number of years ain’t easy, especially since Filipinos working or residing abroad are not full-time into helping compatriots abroad and in thePhilippines.

For this reason, Filipina Leila Rispens-Noel of the WIMLER Partnerships for Social Partnerships in Hong Kong thinks that the only way for Filipino groups abroad is to not only see active involvement by migrant members, but to have some basic things that are common on all types of organizations.

My wish, says this global figure on migration-and-development , is that migrant organizations, like the Kapampangans or Batanguenos in Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia or wherever, will identify their mission, vision, goals and objectives as organizations.

These items of any type of organization —public, private or  volunteer— are actually basic, adds Rispens-Noel. But since Filipinos are primarily working abroad and have their participation in these clubs as days-off only endeavors, making the group grow is tough.

And so are the activities to be organized. This July, WIMLER and another Filipino organization, Pilipinas OFSPES (headquartered in Rome, Italy), will organize a modular course for Filipino migrants on organizational leadership, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship. Last May 6, a leadership seminar was staged for the Filipino community inHong Kong.

Prior to the first year anniversary, WIMLER was informally organized and has been working with migrant groups from Latin America andAfrica.

WIMLER just celebrated its first anniversary with a benefit dinner last April 6 —an activity that Rispens-Noel, Dutch husband Wim, and the group’s volunteer members like former actor Victor Neri collectively pulled off amid limited volunteer time.

While guests and volunteers savored the food and wines that night, funds raised go to WIMLER’s scholarship program in two provinces in Mindanao. Groups such as WIMLER, and thousands of other overseas Filipino organizations —formally and informally organized— have been donating cash and goods to development projects in thePhilippineson top of the family remittances that Filipinos abroad send back home to loved ones.

This archipelago has some 9.4 million documented and irregular Filipinos working and residing abroad in over-220 countries and territories, and their remittances to families and kin over the past 37 years have been a major economic lifeline.

But as some philanthropy analysts think, since volunteer work by Filipinos abroad is part-time, these migrant donor organizations have limited means to ensure that donations to thePhilippinesare used well, and that these make an impact. Many times, donations from Filipinos abroad get wasted and don’t get monitored carefully.

As for those based abroad, migrant organizations think of how their services can directly solve the monetary and family-related issues that Filipinos abroad face.

Yet as Rispens-Noel herself thinks, there’s a limit to one’s volunteering. Not surprisingly, in over two decades of forming Filipino organizations abroad since she was based in The Netherlands, the groups close shop.

“Volunteers and the right spirit of volunteerism are the lifelines of every migrant organization. These groups fall because members do not know where they are going and what they want to achieve,” Rispens-Noel said.

And once these migrant organizations become well-organized, the groups abroad have lots of potentials “in making a difference for their members’ sake, for their community, and for our country as a whole.”

About Jeremaiah Opiniano

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