Always dreamed of making a difference? No other generation has been more driven to improve the plight of others than millennials. Former Cosmo intern Amie Perez joined an NGO to do just that. Here, she delivers the lowdown on everything you need to know t
A woman pounds on her keyboard at the speed of light. Her earphones do the talking for her: Don’t talk to me, I’m busy. In the next room are three young professionals. One of them sorts out office supplies and cuts up pieces of paper. The second counts condoms. I'm the third, and I take a step back and observe everyone. I tell myself, This is change. This is where it starts, this is where it all happens.
It's been going on long before we had the most divisive, meme-fuelled national elections. More than one person being expected to bring change, thousands of tireless, hardworking people have been in the business of bringing positive change to a country that badly needs it. None of us had to wear Spandex and capes; none of us had to wield weapons chasing bad guys around town. And neither do you, if you want to go down the path of changing the world. Three years ago, I decided to move to Puerto Princesa, Palawan, to work for a non-government organization (NGO) called Roots of Health, locally known as Ugatngkalusugan. My job description entailed teaching young girls and boys about sexual and reproductive health, in response to the high teen pregnancy rates and the growing number of cases of sexually transmitted infections in the area.
Whatever cause you wish to champion, working for it can be fulfilling yet frustrating, challenging yet sometimes mind-numbing, inspiring yet disillusioning. Here are a few lessons I learned while trying to be a full-time modern-day rank-andfile superhero. COSMOPOLITAN JULY 2016
CHANGE IS BORING… UNLESS YOU CAN SEE THE BIGGER PICTURE.
A typical day in the life of a humanitarian worker doesn’t always look as glamorously gritty as it does in political ad montages. It’s not always as theatrical as people taking to the streets to overthrow an oppressive regime. It’s not as photo-op-worthy as Angelina Jolie hanging out with refugee kids, or Emma Watson making a rousing speech for the United Nations. It can, at times, be just as boring as any other office job, since most projects are planned, developed, and evaluated at conference tables, regular office desks, or next to a photocopying machine.
In nonprofit work, especially in smaller, grassroots organizations, one’s job isn’t always limited to whatever you signed up for. I signed up to teach sex education, which I always thought was super cool. However, I also ended up watching over and teaching toddlers while their mothers attended maternal health classes. I also taught financial literacy classes, presented in a conference, produced a radio show, figured out how to input formulas on spreadsheets, photocopied and cut questionnaires, dealt with brownouts and water shortages, answered text messages, received the occasional sermon from my bosses…the list went on.