How Testimony Can Help to Cope in the Humanitarian Field during COVID-19

Ahlgilyn Cabanado

In Touch Volunteer

Fostering collective well-being through social media

The sky a perfect blue, a calm frame completing the picture of people singing their hearts out on their balconies as fellow neighbors join the serenade with musical instruments of their own ─ you have probably come across these viral stories of Italian communities coping with their lockdown through communal singing. The first time I stumbled on a story of that kind on my own newsfeed around the beginning of our country’s own lockdown, a mixture of awe and a visceral sense of connection seem to have lodged on my chest, rendering me speechless as tears rimmed my eyes.

In the days that followed, various donation drives, art-for-a-cause projects, and calls for volunteers flooded my newsfeed. These initiatives, as well as the stories of people going the extra mile to support their communities, were a beacon of hope amidst the increasing number of coronavirus cases. The empty shelves in grocery stores, the haunted streets and the palpable fear permeating the mid-March air.

Photo by RDNE Stock Project

If you are a volunteer like me who lives in the suburbs outside of Metro Manila, amidst such largescale shutdown, you may have felt an even stronger desire to lend a hand in our capital’s fight against COVID-19. However, the tides have turned and the face-to-face community outreach and volunteer drives we were used to now run counter to the restrictions on mobility and physical distancing measures in place. This may have left you confused and lost on how you can extend help and support to those who may need it. That was exactly what I felt in the beginning, and exactly why the sudden abundance of inspiring stories and call to action on social media became a welcomed reprieve from the uncertainty. 

Scrolling through my newsfeed and deliberately following links on various initiatives, I suddenly found myself in awe of a virtual community bursting at the seams with different opportunities to help. In Touch itself has been an avenue for me to offer support, with our network of volunteers soldiering on in our mental health initiatives. Some other drives I came across were in the form of voluntary online artistic performances that gathered donations for different institutions. 

Photo by Kerde Severin

Humanitarian relief campaigns came in the form of websites that were built by amazing individuals who reached out to people on the ground most affected by the crisis, assessing their needs in order to come up with comprehensive Needs Maps that donors can utilize to track barangays and hospitals in critical need of food, protective equipment and other essential goods. And of course, with its special place in my heart, I was constantly on the lookout for initiatives on animal wellbeing programs for stray dogs and cats, and calls for shelter donations. This digital network of do-gooders came to me as a delightful discovery and I wish to share it with you if you have not discovered it already. Log on and see where the tips of your fingers and the small screen of your phone can take you. You might find yourself pleasantly surprised and inspired by the virtual community of helpers that awaits you.

#InTouchStoriesofHope aims to bring you mental and emotional relief during the COVID-19 pandemic through the inspiring stories and perspectives of In Touch community of counselors, volunteers, partners, and clients.

Feature Photo by Ray Sangga Kusuma




New US Regional Psychiatrist Visits In Touch

Keeping In Touch: (from left) In Touch Head of Psychological Services Unit Dr. Julian Montano, Mental Health Services Lead Myrtle Almando, US Embassy Medical Unit rep Mimi Thein, US EMU Regional Medical Officer Psychiatrist Andrea Ross, In Touch Executive Director Mike Calleja, In Touch Foreign Liaison Program relationship managers Marielle Mikkelsen and Daisy Pope-Brien.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


For any immediate or in-the-moment emotional support, call our 24/7 CRISIS LINE. Our professionally trained responders are on standby to assist you.