Moms know best – a lesson proved true for alum Mia Tengco. After her mom learned of All Hands programs in Leyte, Philippines, Mia joined the program for a week, returned for another 2 weeks, and, after leaving her business in Manila to her partners, ‘followed her heart’ back to All Hands for a third time –
“I found my people!”
As a volunteer, she quickly became a Team Leader and was promoted into site leader for carpentry in the 83C temporary shelter reconstruction program. Coming from a business background, Mia quickly developed not only carpentry skills but also leadership and teamwork skills with All Hands.
She leveraged her professional experience to support All Hands in a partnership role in Manila, as well as being one of our greatest fundraising advocates.
“I enjoyed that – trying to find people, asking them to give money, pitching AHV to others, speaking about something from the heart.”
When the 83C housing construction project concluded, she felt like it was time to explore opportunities on the new social development pathway All Hands had set her down.
While in Leyte, Mia met Lennart, whom she traveled on with after program. Together, they volunteered in a children’s home in Nepal and trekked the region. In time, Mia decided that she wanted to make social development her life and sought programs in Development and Disaster Management. Ultimately, she chose the Amani Institute’s post-graduate certificate in Social Innovation Management, studying and interning in Kenya for 5 months. The intern work was with Tunapanda Institute, and organization teaching tech and business skills (coding, graphic design, etc.) to youth in the largest slum in Nairobi. In speaking to her classmates, she realized that she shared a background with many who realized their passions and career paths through volunteer experiences helping communities.
From All Hands to Further Volunteer Opportunities
Recently, Mia volunteered with another program in the Philippines, this time supporting education in Kalinga province. Using AHV as a benchmark for program operations, she has helped structure the program to best make use of the volunteers that come to site – “I made a volunteer info pack. I know it needs to be organized! Who are the coordinators? Who’s cooking?” All Hands made her conscious of how meaningful and life-changing a volunteer experience can be, which is the driving force for her commitment to make this new program experience a positive one for incoming volunteers.
The field experience, and lessons that come with that, has been the most valuable skill Mia has taken from her time with All Hands.
“There’s no education like really being there. Being on the ground, learning directly from people, peers, colleagues, the community. It’s so valuable”.
When writing her application for the Amani Institute, she included her All Hands roles in her essay.
“I believe that All Hands has given me an “edge” because it an experience that people find unique and even somewhat crazy. It is an advantage in your application in a way that, through it, people can see your passion for something you believe in.”
At school, she learned how to give a 1-minute elevator pitch about yourself and your skills to a hiring manager. She always added a piece about All Hands, “People are always very impressed because sometimes they think “no way I could do that!” It’s very impressive.” So, use this unique advantage in your applications to stand out amongst the candidates!
Since All Hands, Mia has followed her ‘volunteer spirit’ to find her next opportunities. For example, soon she’ll travel to Palawan to take photos for an organization called Roots of Health. She was able to get this opportunity by emailing them, saying that she would like to volunteer as a photographer and learn more about their work in the process. While she’s not getting paid monetarily Mia believes that there is valuable experience to be gained experience and it will be awesome exposure in a new field.
She concludes: “I’m not really sure what the future holds for me and where I will be working but I do know that it is now important to find something that means something to me, something with purpose and impact. I realized this during my time on project: You can be tired, frustrated and challenged but you will keep going for something you care deeply about, something that makes you feel fulfilled and happy.”