The Coronavirus Pandemic has radically disrupted our daily routines and other activities in life for the past few weeks. Work and studies are mostly done at home and most of our physical socializing activities were put into a halt. Online socializing became the norm during this quarantine period and has been more important than ever. With the aim of building a strong online community to support one another in this time of crisis, AFS Philippines launched its first series of #BetterTogether Volunteer Webinar.

This month of April, we conducted a two-day webinar participated by our active local Volunteers to get to know each other better and to get in touch with each other during these difficult times. #BetterTogether is a weekly webinar on Zoom brought to tackle four important things: to provide a platform for sharing of emotions, thoughts and feelings, to discuss how to manage emotions during crisis, to share best practices on what to do vs. not to do during quarantine, and to discuss about health care tips amidst the pandemic.

#BetterTogether aims to provide a safe space for volunteers to share how they are doing and brainstorm about creative ways to support each other during these tough times. It focuses on creating a safe space to talk about volunteer’s thoughts, feelings, and experience with themselves, their families and some, with their host students. Throughout the two-day webinar we talked about the following:

  •  Light chat with our volunteers: sharing about their current condition, how they use their time, what are their challenges and realizations during quarantine.
  • Workshop on managing emotions during crisis: Life tips from a licensed psychometrician
  • What to do and not to do during quarantine
  • Learning about the real self-care

Abdul Rahman Alongan and Johnson Badawi are both volunteers who facilitated their respective sessions. They covered different topics addressing mental health issues.

Abdul Rahman Alongan was a speaker for the session titled “How to look after your mental health”. Abdul was able to share 10 practical ways to look after one’s mental health and well-being. Participants were reminded on how being healthy physically, emotionally, and mentally are important to take good care of oneself during a crisis.

However, Johnson Badawi facilitated a very informative and interactive session on self-care tips during self-quarantine. A session that compiled everyone’s collective knowledge about what are the very ways they do to cope up with stress. We are happy and proud to have brought together such an amazing group of volunteers to know, to learn, and relate to each other’s walk of life and stories.

We want to thank everyone for their active participation and for inputs during the sessions. Your presence helped make this webinar a great success and your enthusiasm and positive spirit made our time together both productive and fun. There is nothing more rewarding than the end result: seeing people enjoying themselves, seeing everyone connect, and share an experience.

With the pandemic still at large and the future uncertain, it is comforting to know that we are not alone in this battle and that there are people experiencing the same situation. We, at AFS Philippines aims to continue this online platform to create a safe, inclusive and supportive environment to our volunteers and alumni in the coming weeks.