CUBICLE # 5: A Development Worker’s Journey

A narration of survival and celebration of God’s blessing

It was an ordinary day for a development worker. The routine is usual in the community, monitoring the status of our program and the community people. Early in the morning catching my barrio trip and riding a ‘skylab, dagit-dagit or habal- habal’ literally means single motorcycle.

From a 20 to 30- minute trip from the urban area, you will reach the welcoming people of North Cotabato, where our target areas are strategically located. 

The province is not only known for its rich cultures and traditions but is also home to various tourist destinations like waterfalls and resorts which attract tourists from around the country. My journey is still in compass.

Road of discernment

Two years ago, at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon after a regular community work, my friend invited me to visit a friend’s farm of mangosteen fruits.

Since the area is just along the highway, we decided to park and had our quick chit-chat. It was the peak season of fruits in the city at that time. My friend asked me to get some fruits fresh from the tree and even climbed for a try to get more fruits as ‘pasalubong.’

When we were about to go home, something stung my arm and it was a venomous bee. For just a couple of seconds, I felt the numbness and I said, I wanted to sit for a while.

A few seconds later, I was totally unconscious and started snoring, according to my friend’s revelation.

They tried to bring me along the road and called for help. I was totally unconscious at that time after a quick bee stung my left arm.

Ten minutes later, some of the concerned citizens in the area were able to connect thru two-way radio and was able to connect the 911 emergency hotline in the city and they quickly responded.

After a few minutes, I partially recovered my consciousness while riding the ambulance but the environment is still deemed. I can’t see clearly. My strength was lost but I could hear but can’t converse normally. During that moment, a lot of things were playing on my mind.

Aside from sincere prayer to God, to bless me to survive, I’m thinking of my family’s welfare. My son is still young and I have a lot of plans for them if ever that’s the end of my life journey.  I had a lot of what-ifs.

While going to the city proper to seek further medical needs, the nurse asked some of my profile and see to it I can’t sleep during my entire trip to the nearest hospital. 

According to the doctor’s diagnosis, I experienced “anaphylactic shock.”

Based on medical literature, it is an extreme, and often a life-threatening allergic reaction to an antigen to which the body has become hypersensitive. As a primary reaction, blood pressure drops and the survivor experiences difficulty in breathing that usually leads to dizziness.”

1/2-way cubicle

In an emergency room, some medical staff started checking my blood pressure and even my pulse rate. Unfortunately, after several attempts, they cannot get the correct registration. It was zero (0). They even had a hard time finding my nerve for intravenous insertion and an attending physician immediately recommended me to bring to an intensive care unit (ICU) for close observation and monitoring of my vital signs.

For almost 20 years, it was my first time being confined in a hospital facility and my immediate ward was in a “halfway” room. 

A cubicle for ‘50/50’ or intended for patients who need close monitoring and observation. I can’t imagine that the medical apparatus which I usually see in great sci-fi movies were connected to my body.

I was in the room alone and I stayed in a small cubicle enough for one medical bed and a machine beating continuously.  I was there for almost 2 days and 2 nights.

The journey was not easy. I’m in the cubicle where in front of me was a patient just counting his remaining hours. Only medical apparatus helped him to have lived a little bit longer.

While on the right side, a patient was in a ‘comma’ after he met a serious vehicular accident. The medical team was just waiting for the family’s decision if they ought to dislodge the life-support. 

During that moment, I keep asking myself:

What if, I’m one of them? What will happen to my family?  Am I ready to leave them?  Am I worthy to be remembered?  Do I serve my real purpose in the community? In my neighborhood? 

Things like these, started to pop up in my mind, though I am a little bit groggy.

During that challenging moment in my life, my faith in God becomes stronger. My prayer life begins to revitalize. My prayer was more solemn and sincere.

LESSONS of Life and a call to continue the journey

Believe that our life is a gift from God and only Him knows when will be the end of our story. My experience reminds me of how our engagement in the community works.

Connecting people is not an easy way. We need a lot of patience and passion to fully connect with different cultures, and attitudes, and even to understand their perspective in life.

My previous experience while in the cubicle #5 is compared to that of the community and reflects it vis-à-vis medical terms:

The bee sting is like various attitudes, and perspective of life, some seems so pessimistic about the programs and are not able to realize how they could contribute to making their community better to live, access various social services and be able to gain support from other development players. Our community journeying in the community posts a challenge of perseverance and dedication. Community development is a continuous process and shortcut is not an option. In the light of development programming, involving various sectors is significantly important to produce appropriate and context-based results.

The ambulance is a vehicle of services that plays an important role if people understand its prime purpose. It is not only a machine but a possible intervention that could help build a community’s stance to appreciate communitarian development and look at it in a sustainable framework.

When an organization ends its term, various projects and initiatives will continue because community people understand their role and responsibility in the lens of development.

The emergency room (ER) is an avenue for thorough examinations of purpose, and direction, and to set up common grounds to collectively bring contextualized programs for various sectors, especially to the most vulnerable before the actual confinement and that need a series of consultations and monitoring of actions. It is a window to carefully set the purpose and a guide for the clear direction.

The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is halfway between netting our shared community goals and consciously checking the status of agreements and partnerships. Squarely checking the impact of our interventions and how our various actions affect and change the lives of the most vulnerable children and their families in the community. Is there a positive impact in terms of attitude, and perspective of life? How their participation becomes an instrument of change in their respective families? At this stage, our passion and ministry for community development are vital. Life’s perspective needs spiritual nurturing not only for the younger generation but most especially for adults and community mentors.

The medical personnel is like our local government unit members, stakeholder, partners, and the individual who have the heart for community development. Some are trained and skilled while others are just apprentices, trying to understand the dynamics of volunteerism for the welfare of children. This is a unique community and congregation of various talents, skills, and dedication to helping carry out community-based programs without counting the cost.

Journeying with them, take a lot of patience and genuine service to help them be inspired to dedicate their time to the volunteer mission. Make them realize every day that something is changing positively because of their presence and participation.

This story is just the beginning of our desire to touch the lives of people in the rural areas,  to appreciate the beauty of social endeavors, and appreciate the significance of community participation in building solid and value-grounded families towards a sustainable community.

We are not bounded to the corners of a “cubicle,” but we are challenged to keep growing, innovating, and touching lives through our passion for service and that through our presence the spirituality of people will be revived and strengthened.

Let’s unite to grow the seeds of humility, service, partnership, eco-friendly families, and a participative community. May we always thank God for His continued provision and blessings. –

**A friend’s personal narrative

** Photos are for illustration only

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