Oxygen Pantry: A Divina “Gigi” Policar Convento healing through sharing project

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LCP Chai Mercado

An outstanding Best Class President during her term continuously striving for  greater goal, the purpose of PP Divina “Gigi” Policar Convento is to improve the wellbeing of humankind by preventing and solving social problems.

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It was mid-March last 2020 when the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF- EID) implemented a series of stay-at-home orders on Luzon, known as the Enhanced Community Quarantine to contain the emerging COVID-19 virus and its threat. This disease spares no one from an ordinary citizen to a well-known personality in this the global pandemic. It critically affected not only education but also the economy. It delayed the country’s opportunity to fight against the virus as it threatened our health.

When lockdown was on its peak, over 57 million Filipinos were affected and many lost their jobs. As our economic status was failing to meet its trajectory, our chance to defeat this invisible enemy is getting smaller. What was more devastating was losing our family members. Many of our financially-challenged kababayan had no source to protect and save the lives of their loved ones who’s struggling with their individual health concerns.

On the surge of UK variant, Rtn. Divina “Gigi” Policar Convento and her husband Rtn. Noel Convento had their first-hand experience of surviving the highly contagious Delta COVID-19 variant. This unfortunate experience lead her to a project.

“My husband and I are COVID survivors, during the UK variant surge. I was the first one, mine was moderate though I suffered too from difficulty of breathing but I can manage without oxygen tank , but different for my husband Noel , he finished around 10 tanks of Oxygen, plus all other symptoms (quite severe)”, she said.

“We have 2 tanks on our own but not enough to augment his difficulty, we need more tank for refilling, somebody lent me 2 more. This unfortunate event lead me to this advocacy, though expensive , but my family (brothers, nieces, nephews) from my side gave their full support  to this mission, we started with 26 tanks and 24 regulator (which is also very expensive) , during Delta surge we were able to serve our community although in running this Oxygen pantry is really a test of patience , several time I want to give up and  just donate the tanks and regulators to some public hospitals, but  still we  persevere and with God’s grace we were able to carry on . We are always thinking of the people in our communities who can’t afford to buy or rent tanks and regulators once they are affected by Covid  , this thought gave us strength to carry on”, she added.

On July 1, in response to pandemic, the Antero and Leonor Policar Foundation opened an Oxygen Pantry that provides free 26 tanks full of oxygen and regulators.

“We will not ask anything from you not even a single centavo or votes for election, for we are not politicians, what we just need is for you to take care of these things  for everyone’s sake and to thank God for His goodness”, she explained.

Her project costs more than PhP 300,000. Oxygen tanks and regulators are expensive and the maintenance for oxygen supply is also another thing for money. However, it may cost a lot money but her empathy to people is a much higher which is to save them from crisis. Even with her family’s foundation, she continues to serve with RC Rosario as a true philanthropist.

In these trying times, we are challenged to combat an invisible enemy but we are stronger in adversities. Rtn Divina “Gigi” Policar Convento leads as an inspiration to RC Rosario and LCP Cynthia Mercado. This kind of action is a beginning of serving to change lives as we face a new normal.