I just want to share my experience at the DSWD to shed some light into the DSWD controversy because I had enough of the online speculation and just wanted to go there and see it for myself and volunteer to help.

When I got there I looked for Miss Fabian who’s managing the warehouse for DSWD. She informed me that they no longer need volunteers for the weekend because they have too many. So I asked about UNICEF and they exclaimed that I could help there. UNICEF needs volunteers.

So I met with Ensha of UNICEF, some volunteers from Don Bosco and Jordan, a volunteer from Boston. We were about 15. After about an hour, my fellow volunteers from Red Cross, including Geraldine Repollo, who’s managing Rizal chapter, followed and relieved the students from Don Bosco. We were still about 15.

There are 5 (if my memory doesn’t fail me this time) huge warehouses. 1 warehouse housed the goods from UNICEF. The rest housed rice and other food stuff. The UNICEF goods are packed as starter packs for those families who have been relocated due to the floods. A starter pack consists of cooking pot stuffed with towels, bath soap, laundry detergent, water jug stuffed with 4 blankets, 2 plastic mats. These are then picked up by trucks and supposed to be delivered to the relocation centers. The rest of the warehouses pack food and snack packs, as far as I know because I did not actually pack one. Distribution is centralized through DSWD.

Those are the facts as I’ve seen them.

The blog that started it all, after checking the posted pics and what I actually saw, referred to the UNICEF warehouse. Is there corruption? I don’t think there is. At least not at the warehouse packing stages. Ensha and the volunteers seem intent only on the job at hand. (Bless you guys!)Security seems strict and I see no signs of pilferage. I’m not sure what happens after the goods leave the warehouse. I just hope they get to their supposed destinations. Someone needs to check on that.

Is there intentional hoarding? I don’t think there is either.

Goods are just moving slow. I posit 2 reasons:

1. There are not enough volunteers. Ms. Fabian says that on weekdays they only get around 40 volunteers. When I came there, there were not more than 15 working on a Saturday even when I posted on my FB page with my 1800 “FB friends”, several FB groups totaling around 400 members, twittered it, and SMSed to 20 buddies. 15/2000 is not a good ratio. Gang, I hope you are more successful. No volunteers.

2. Limits set by the management. When I was told that DSWD is no longer accepting volunteers for the weekend because there were already a lot of volunteers from UPS. I don’t have the exact count but I saw several hundreds. However, after 2 hours of work, I noticed that the other warehouses were empty. I strongly think the 5 huge warehouses could accomodate and harness at least 1000 per warehouse. When we were repacking at Red Cross Rizal in a 40sqm room, we had 600 volunteers at some points and managed to release 1000-2000 packs per mission and we ran several missions per day. The DSWD warehouses should be able to improve their output. They could run 24/7 on continous shifts when volunteers and managers (from DSWD, UNICEF, or volunteers) running the packing lines. In business, we call this a good problem. It is a scale problem.

My recommendations:

  1. Train more packing line managers from staff and volunteers.
  2. Run the lines as a 24/7 operation with your trained line managers.
  3. Make the schedules public. Use social media, the internet, radio, whatever. (I know of some who volunteered but returned home when they were told they need no more volunteers. If I, myself, [emphasis mine] did not ask for UNICEF, the peeps at the DSWD office wouldn’t have volunteered the info. Clearly, we have communication problem here.)
  4. Get more volunteers.

Those are my recommendations to the people in charge of the warehouses.

To the rest of you readers, stop reading, stop speculating about corruption and criticizing from your comfortable chairs and fast broadband, stop making those stupid farmville whatever, stop waging virtual mafia wars, get out, volunteer and get ready to sweat it out.

I’ll post pics and videos when I get home. Now massage.

Photos here. Video here.

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