In Barangay Fatima, Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro, resides Mrs. Estrellita D. Alafriz, 65 years old, a woman characterized by strength, resilience, and vision. Despite being widowed at the age 42 and tasked with raising six children, she faces life’s challenges with unwavering determination. With only their home and 300 pesos left by her late husband, Mrs. Alafriz epitomizes perseverance.

Despite her own struggles she remains deeply committed to serving her community. As an active volunteer leader within the Jubilee Parents Association, a vital component of the MASA PROJECT funded by the World Vision Development Foundation, she dedicates herself to uplifting the most disadvantaged families in the area. Her involvement reflects her unwavering belief in the power of collective support and the transformative impact of community-driven initiatives.

Between 1995 and 2011, Jubilee Parents played a vital role in her life and her family’s well-being. Through the Sponsorship Program of World Vision, it became the means to educate her six children, who were beneficiaries of the program.

Despite facing significant challenges, she managed to provide for her family by selling homemade delicacies like puto, kutsinta, biko, and suman. She juggled the roles of both mother and father, ensuring her children’s needs were met. Within the Jubilee Parents Association (JPA), she served as the Secretary of the Board of Directors, taking on various responsibilities such as paperwork, communication, and document filing. She embraced these duties as opportunities to secure her children’s education. Over 15 years, JPA not only facilitated her children’s schooling but also helped shape her character through volunteerism and leadership training. This preparation equipped her for future responsibilities, even after the phase-out of Jubilee Parents Association.

During her time as a volunteer in JPA, Mrs. Alafriz was also a member of the Lupong Tagapamayapa in Barangay Fatima. This additional role provided her with valuable experience in dealing with people of various backgrounds and concerns, further developing her confidence.

As Mrs. Alafriz approached her 60th birthday, she pondered on how she could continue to contribute meaningfully to her community as a senior citizen. She prayed for guidance from the Lord to lead her towards greater usefulness.

At this time, the Senior Citizens Association of Fatima was in need of a new, more capable president. Mrs. Alafriz was elected to this position, entrusting her with additional responsibilities. Her dedication to supporting the senior citizens of Fatima drove her to strive for more accomplishments during her term.

Under her leadership, the growing number of seniors expressed a dream of having a Senior Citizens Multi-purpose building. This facility would serve as a gathering place for meetings, socialization, and various activities for seniors.

Fortunately, a generous individual in the area willingly donated a portion of her land for the construction of the Senior Citizen Building. On behalf of the senior citizens of Barangay Fatima, Mrs. Alafriz requested assistance from various local government agencies such as DSWD, LGU, and PGO, but unfortunately, no help was forthcoming. After three years of waiting, KALAHI-CIDSS finally came to their rescue.

In December 2022, KALAHI-CIDSS introduced various programs and activities to all barangays of Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro. Fortunately, Barangay Fatima was chosen as one of the beneficiaries of the Multi-Purpose Building Cum Evacuation Center project, which would be managed by the senior citizens. This marked a turning point where she facilitated meetings, consultations, and the preparation of documents. With support from the office of the Mayor, as well as the MSWDO and KALAHI-CIDSS, estimates for the bill of materials, program of works, and labor costs were determined.

After dialogue with the Barangay Council, Municipal Government, and KALAHI-CIDSS, the project was approved, sparking excitement throughout the community. With her determination and passion for volunteerism and aiding senior citizens, she emphasized that the project would benefit not only seniors but also the entire community as an evacuation center during calamities. This vision garnered support from the community.

Throughout the construction of the Multi-Purpose Building, she regularly monitored and visited the site alongside other female volunteers. They provided snacks, drinking water, and sometimes even lunch to the workers. However, during the first month of construction, a challenge arose as payments for weekly laborers depended on the progress billing for completion of the project. Together with the Barangay Captain they sought financial help from generous individuals in the area to settle the payments for laborers. Thanks to the support of those who believed in the Senior President’s vision, the laborer costs were covered.

In addition, she, along with some capable women volunteered to tidy the construction site surroundings and assisted in preparing snacks for workers. They also helped organize and sort nails and other construction materials, demonstrating their dedication to the project’s success.

KALAHI-CIDSS also encouraged her to register the Fatima Senior Association with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for future purposes. She took the lead in formulating the Constitution and By-Laws, facilitating meetings with the association’s officers and members, resolving resolutions, and preparing other necessary requirements. On October 18, 2023, with KALAHI’s technical assistance, guidance and supervision, ensured that every action taken was for the community’s benefit, the Fatima Senior Association was successfully registered with DOLE. This experience instilled in the group a sense of diligence and passion under Mrs. Alafriz’s leadership, and they are immensely grateful to KALAHI-CIDSS for the unwavering guidance and support.

KALAHI-CIDSS provided Mrs. Alafriz with valuable knowledge and skills particularly in goal-setting. She learned to be SMART in decision-making: being Specific with plans, ensuring decisions are Measurable by carefully analyzing the situation and needs, making sure projects are Attainable, utilizing community Resources through volunteerism, and strictly monitoring project construction to meet deadlines.

As a KALAHI-CIDSS volunteer, she learned to stand firm in her decisions. Her strategies included conducting meetings, consultations, deliberations, and open communication to accept suggestions—all of which contributed to accomplishing the project. These valuable skills and lessons were acquired through her involvement with KALAHI-CIDSS.

As of today, she continues to serve as the President of the Senior Citizen Association in the barangay. Additionally, she holds the position of Municipal Federation President of the Senior Citizen Federation, overseeing 17 chapters, and is a member of the Lupon Tagapamayapa.

Mrs. Alafriz’s dedication to serving others extends beyond senior citizens. In the last local election, she ran for Barangay Kagawad and was successful. She now heads the Social Services Committee. Despite the numerous responsibilities and pressures she faces, she remains committed to serving the Lord as an Elder in her church, the Lighthouse Christian Community. She believes that serving both the Lord and the community constitutes her greatest accomplishment in life.

During the 2019 Women’s Month Celebration, she was a recipient of the Huwarang Nanay/Pamilya award.

Mrs. Lita Alafriz exemplifies empowerment through volunteerism, dedication, and a passion to serve. She attributes her successes to God, acknowledging that the highest praise belongs to Him.

DSWD KALAHI-CIDSS recognize the pivotal of women and other gender minorities in social development thus acknowledging them as essential partners in our development journey and believing the women’s power to drive change and development. Continuously upholding the principle that everyone, irrespective of gender or sex, can be a catalyst for change and development.