During these difficult times, hope becomes elusive to many. With the rise of the COVID-19 cases, more families who are marginalized and underprivileged become severely affected by the government imposed lockdowns. They have no income, as most businesses have shut down, and food supply stores were restricted to operating; unemployment has also increased. Bridging Opportunities Philippines Incorporated (BOP, Inc.) becomes a channel of provision and a beacon of hope to starving families, infected individuals, and the weary. People were uplifted and felt the warm support of countless donors. And this is the mission of Bridging Opportunities Philippines—to bring hope and love in the service of the nation and for the glory of God.

A duly registered non-profit organization with Securities and Exchange Commission of the Philippines, Bridging Opportunities Philippines Incorporated is a holistic development organization that endeavors to create a socially progressive environment where the marginalized sector of society, especially the youth, children, and families are able to access opportunities that are relevant, fit and meaningful to the realization of their purpose in life. BOP, Inc. works toward providing bursary support and scholarship for the youth to complete secondary education, pursue tertiary education or technical-vocational courses; provide livelihood opportunities for families to generate sustainable income; and access better health care and nutrition to support children to attain their full physical, emotional, and intellectual growth.

Bigas relief operation conducted in the midst of the pandemic
at Butuan City last 16 April 2020.

As an organization committed to uplift the social conditions of marginalized sectors, Bridging Opportunities Philippines is active in helping families who are economically affected by the pandemic by donating packs of rice to over 300 families in Agusan Del Sur. Around five hundred (500) families from Butuan City, Agusan Del Norte, Tandag and Bayugan City, Agusan Del Sur and Dagupan City, Pangasinan have benefitted from the programs.

In addition, the organization has also donated cash to the Philippine General Hospital for the procurement of Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) Test for COVID-19 suspects. BOP Inc. is also partnering with other government and non-government organizations to support local farmers in shortening the delivery of food supplies by removing the middleman system and advocating the farm to market and farm to household channels. They have partnered with the organizations such as Rise Against Hunger Philippines, Global Tassels, Inc., Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy Alumni Association, Art5 Outreach from Butuan City, and the City Government of Dagupan.

Part of their vision is for every Filipino youth and family to overcome poverty through equal access to better education, health and nutrition, and income generating opportunities. This is what drives them to do better and work in partnership with individuals and organizations to create and bridge meaningful opportunities for the marginalized to achieve their full potential by God’s design. Another program that the organization regularly conducts, aside from their COVID-19 response efforts, is the NOZOMI Initiative. Nozomi is a Japanese word which means “Hope”. It is a fitting word to describe a program that intends to provide poor but deserving children, not only financially but mentorship as well. BOP Inc. scholars will be linked with children their age in an end view of establishing community that will afford each child scholar the opportunity to learn from their fellow youth.

Picture taken last 30 Oct. 2019. BOP, Inc., in partnership with PNP Butuan City, Rise Against Hunger PH and Art5 Inc., distribute snacks to the children of Surigao del Sur.

The NOZOMI Initiative believes that learning does not only happen within the school environment, but more importantly from the rich and genuine experiences of other people shared in a community governed by trust, generosity, humility, and excellence in all the facet of life.

(Written by: Tricia Marie Ayala) The author is currently the Program Officer, Volunteerism for Development Communication and Advocacy Program, Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency.

(Visit PNVSCA website (www.pnvsca.gov.ph) and PNVSCA Facebook (facebook.com/PNVSCA) for other stories and information on volunteering in response to COVID-19).