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  • Kiana Abiva

All For Love: A GK USA Mission Trip for GK Leyte

Updated: Mar 16

February was a month full of love and compassion for Team GK USA. The team went the extra mile to show their care and support for our GK beneficiaries in the Visayas region!

 The All for Love pilgrimage is a three-day GK USA-led mission in Leyte, Philippines, specifically in Ormoc. Its goal is generally a mission of love in pursuit of compassion, relationship-building, and values-sharing by building communities with the poor. 

The pilgrimage, organized by GK USA, aimed to teach, build relationships, and share values by collaborating with marginalized communities. Members from GK Florida, GK Texas, GK California, and GK Las Vegas immersed themselves in the local villages. They witnessed impactful moments like house turnovers and community food farm inaugurations, creating stronger bonds with residents.

A significant highlight of the trip was the groundbreaking and blessing of the GK Vergara site on February 13th. This new GK village was designed by Architect Jomel Viterbo. Through joint efforts with local authorities and future residents, GK USA gained insights into the community's needs. The event was celebrated with shared meals, performances, and heartfelt stories from the GK Vergara community, showcasing the harmonious relationship between an NGO, the government, and their beneficiaries.

On Valentine's Day, the pilgrims spent time with beneficiaries from the Divine Mercy GK Community and GK Sulpa, visiting four villages in a single day! Team members from Florida and Las Vegas were able to visit the villages that they poured their hearts into and were finally able to see the colorful and iconic houses and meet the community they were sponsoring. It was also heartwarming to witness the little boys and girls playing football– thanks to Gawad Kalinga’s SipaG program – in their spacious grassy area while waiting for the program to begin. Beneficiaries from GK Goodness Rising, GK Tampa Bay, and GK Raffinan Reyes Legacy gathered in their shared events hall to present their guests with local delicacies and even more dance performances– in which the pilgrims happily joined in! The visitors were also given Valentine's cards made by the children of the villages to express their gratitude.

Currently, 60 out of 92 houses needed are put up by the community with the help of Gawad Kalinga. Additionally, Carol Tulud, GK USA’s Executive Director, promised them 20 more! The signing of contracts was also held between GK and the local government units to continue their partnership and continue helping the beneficiaries. Before the gathering came to an end, the children were given school supplies that they could use for their studies. The children seemed extremely excited to use their new notebooks.

The pilgrims from Team GK USA persevered through hot weather, rains, and long distances just to immerse themselves in the lives of our beneficiaries. It was truly a mind-opening experience for everyone involved. Feelings of empathy, love, and awe were surely felt. The pilgrims who came from America felt the principle of “kapwa”, which is a recognition of our shared identity with one another. Listening to stories, sharing meals, and interacting with their fellow Filipinos who have gone through life's struggles is an immersion experience one will never forget. 

GK USA's impactful pilgrimage experiences relay the need for more such initiatives. These journeys serve as transformative opportunities for the team to connect deeply with communities, digging deeper into their Filipino identities. The lessons learned from witnessing the resilience and spirit of the beneficiaries inspire a collective call to action. Though the pilgrims come from the United States, the trip and cultural immersion reminded them of what it means to be a Filipino. It's a reminder that despite geographical distances, we are united in our shared humanity. The essence of "walang iwanan" or “no one left behind” resonates profoundly, urging us to break down walls and barriers to stand hand in hand with those in need. The stories shared by the different individuals' perseverance give hope, encouraging us to do better as they have.

Join us at GK USA, supporting their mission to touch lives and create lasting change. Your involvement, whether through donations or volunteering, builds stronger, more resilient communities. Let's continue to sow seeds of hope and create a brighter future for all! 

Know more of the individual stories on our Facebook and Instagram pages here:

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