Helping the most vulnerable during the COVID-19 crisis – the #YouthofUNESCO story of Maria Solita

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to upend the lives of young people around the world. However, youth are at the forefront when it comes to stepping up and helping their communities overcome challenges caused by the virus.
A young technical adviser on tourism and cultural affairs from the Philippines, Maria Solita (30), has initiated “The Milk Giving” project and “Be A Blessing, Share Your Blessing”. These two initiatives aim to deliver free food supplies to the most vulnerable people within her community during the crisis.

“The Milk Giving project is a spur-of-the moment idea that I never expected would make a strong pronouncement about how huge difference a small act of kindness makes. In this time of COVID-19, my husband and I decided to use our salaries for two months in giving away a thousand food packs to the most affected sectors within Kalibo, the town where we reside. Aside from our relief operations and other group projects that we support, we also received a couple of Facebook messages from individuals who were asking for non-formula milk and other basic necessities for their children.”

“That is how “The Milk Giving” project started with 25 boxes on April 20, and within 2 days, allowed us to donate almost 200 boxes to 420 individuals, including senior citizen and children with disabilities. It started with just me and my husband and it became a growing family of people who chose to be a blessing by sharing their blessings.”

Maria Solita’s second initiative "Be A Blessing, Share Your Blessing" offers food packs to children with disabilities at Stimulation and Therapeutic Activity Center (STAC) in Kalibo. Maria explains, “Within a day, we were able to raise 25,000php (around 500 US dollars) and donate food packs and hygiene kits to the 60 students of STAC. Additional food packs were purchased for persons with disabilities and children from the town of Nabas.”

“With my husband, I always try to involve our children in all our projects. The repacking becomes our bonding time where I make them understand the essence of sacrifices and our hopes for a better world. For our son’s 8th birthday, we gave away hygiene kits through an online contest: the recipients were children of frontliners ranging from local police officers (barangay tanod); recipients of the Barangay Nutrition Scholar Program (BNS), which aims at monitoring the nutritional status of children; Barangay Health Workers (BHW); barangay council staff; and rural health unit staff. The hygiene kits include toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, and soap as well as sweet treats.”

For Maria Solita, helping to alleviate difficulties in the lives of others through these projects is also a way to send a message of hope to overcome this pandemic.

“It felt fulfilling to be able to share even the little that our family has, especially in this very difficult time. It is with a fervent hope that by reaching out to these people, we somehow painted a smile on their faces and encouraged them to keep moving forward.”