Shiela Flor Gordo was a third-year high school student when she came across a television documentary featuring a relief operation for the indigenous people. At that very moment, Shiela Flor has envisioned herself to help the less fortunate.

Fueled with a sense of purpose and passion, she studied Bachelor of Science in Social Work at Mindanao State University (MSU).

“After I enrolled myself in Social Work, my father asked me why I took up that course when that will not make me rich,” vividly recalled Shiela Flor.

“I answered him that I want to pursue a profession that will help me become an instrument for the betterment of others,” she added.

Pantawid City Link

After she finished her social work degree, she applied as a City Link under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) in the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Field Office VII.

And for more than seven years, she worked as one of the four City Links in the City of Naga, Cebu, handling more than 600 4Ps partner-beneficiaries.

As a City Link, her role is crucial in helping uplift the lives of the 4Ps family-beneficiaries.

She conducts monthly Family Development Session (FDS), distributes, retrieves, and submits the completed compliance verification forms (CVS). She also reviews and monitors submissions of Update Forms, cash grants release, and profiling of 4Ps family-beneficiaries.

She regularly conducts house-to-house visits to ensure that 4Ps beneficiaries are updated and monitored. To reach the far-flung areas, she takes a ‘Habal-Habal,’ an improvised, single motorcycle.

“It takes to do the extra mile, hard work, and patience to ensure that I accomplish every task assigned to me. My work is not easy. There may be a lot of things to be done, but it is very fulfilling,” underscored Shiela Flor.

“The 4Ps provides cash grants, so I believe that the money must be spent wisely by the beneficiaries as the government invests on human development,” she said matter-of-factly.

“There were times that I observed some of the beneficiaries took for granted the FDS, and only joined the activity for the sake of compliance, but I did not lose hope and persuaded them to attend the FDS regularly and apply their learnings at home,” Shiela Flor said.

She also conducted case management and guided the beneficiaries on their health and education compliance.

Proof of her efforts is the high compliance rating for FDS. The average compliance rate from 2017 to 2019 was 98.27%. For the education grant, the average compliance rate was 90.21%, while the health grant was 98.27%.

Landslide

On 18 September 2018, a massive landslide happened in a mountain barangay in the City of Naga. The tragedy left 78 villagers dead, 18 injured, and six people remained missing to date.

The families affected by the landslide were evacuated from their homes and brought to the APO gym. Sheila Flor served as the APO evacuation camp’s coordinator and camp manager.

Pantawid City Link Shiela Flor Gordo in a meeting with the cluster leaders of APO gym to discuss about orderly and systematic camp management of APO gym, as evacuation camp for the landslide affected families in 2018. (File Photo)

“It was my most challenging experience as a social worker, and it tested my patience, too,” she recalled.

With the evacuation center housing at least 125 families, it was a test of patience for Shiela Flor as she had to deal with various people with different kinds of behavior.

As a camp manager, she divided the evacuees into five clusters, with their cluster leaders each. These leaders were tasked with specific roles to do.

“I presided the meetings to discuss and emphasize house rules, cleanliness, and orderliness in the evacuation center,” said Shiela Flor.

“I likewise implemented proper coordination with various non-government organizations or NGOs for relief efforts, and with this, the NGOs were able to donate essentials needed most by the evacuees and prevented redundancy,” she added.

With her tenacity and effective implementation of the agency’s guidance, the APO Gym was commended, by the local government unit, as the most organized of the nine evacuation centers.

Work from the heart

In her field visits, Shiela Flor never ceases to encourage responsible parenting to the 4Ps parents.

“I constantly remind the parents to always look after the welfare of the entire family, to persevere and work hard for the future of their children. And every time there is a graduation, I am happy to see the joy of the parent’s that their children were able to finished education,” she explained.

“Looking back, I did not regret taking up social work because this is not an ordinary work it emanated, from the heart,” she added.

She now fulfills her dream to be an instrument of improving the quality of life of the poor. ###

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