The summer holiday. It is the best of times; it is the worst of times. It gives us a chance to relax, to expel from our systems the exhaustion and stress that has built up over time. However, it also deprives us, Bearcats, from the many opportunities that we avail at school. For many, it is the opportunity to be part of the numerous service organizations that help the local community thrive. The void felt in our hearts when we can’t partake in such can’t be compensated by the 10 hours of free time a day and the ice cream at our disposal. Fortunately, for those who want to do even more service and fill their void with the love and affection of those they help, an exciting opportunity exists at the Gawad Kalinga (GK) Enchanted Farm.

Located in Bulacan, GK Enchanted Farm, subsidiary of Gawad Kalinda, is a movement aimed at alleviating poverty and developing the Philippines. According to GK Enchanted Farm’s mission statement, it serves as a “platform to raise social entrepreneurs, help local farmers and create wealth in the countryside”. People from around the world come over to help develop Philippines both socially and economically. Ysabel Ayala, a grade 11 student, decided to work with the organization last summer. She says that she “helped out with the farming, and helped the social entrepreneurs develop or collect products that ranged from organic duck eggs to plush toys”. Perhaps the biggest learning she got out of the experience was “how to develop a self sustainable economy”.  Too many people, she says, “think of service as simply going and helping others. However, another effective way is by trying to improve the community economically, as it will lead to better living conditions for all.”

I previously half-described the summer holidays as “the worst of times”, but now I feel the need to retract the statement. Although the summer holidays might prevent us from making use of the numerous opportunities offered by school, it serves as the perfect time to explore the options that we have outside of school. We may be able to discover new things that interest us, or find ways of becoming more involved with our existing interests. The GK Enchanted Farm gives people interested in service a chance to do so. Although it is an out of school organization, it is no less beneficial to others than any school run endeavor, and is sure to address the service itch that nags us during the long and sweltering summer holidays. Carpe feriae aestate. Bearcats, seize the summer holidays!

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