The covid-19 pandemic has resulted in thousands of people jobless and hungry. Especially for those in the informal sectors or those engaged in daily paid jobs, the stay-at-home order, loss of mobility and the stoppage of economic activities have consigned them into a situation where their only source of food are the relief goods from government and non-government agencies. To augment these, the dioceses and some parishes of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines have also launched food relief operations.

With the current health crisis seen to extend for a much longer time than desired or expected, the ECP’s E-CARE Foundation has launched this program called the Voucher Support System to provide cash relief to those in need. The cash however serves as payment for future services that the applicant, referred to as the program participant, shall provide. The system works, as follows:

1] An applicant (referred to as the program participant) fills up a simple form that states his/her basic personal circumstances and, in addition, the skills or jobs that he/she can perform. The form shall require the endorsement of the priest-in-charge of the applicant’s congregation.

With the re-building of St. Andrew’s Theological Seminary to commence as soon as the lockdown is lifted, there would be a lot of jobs required, including demolition and clearing of existing structures in the site of the new seminary.

As in the past, the ECP National Office as well as institutions and residences in Cathedral Heights have engaged various skills such as: house cleaning, building maintenance, sewing, cooking, driving, massage, etc.

Certainly, there are also various jobs and skills required in the dioceses.

2] The program participant can apply for a maximum of Php 2,112.00 which is equivalent to four (4) days work, computed at 8 hours per day at NCR minimum wage.

3] Upon release of the amount, the program participant signs a voucher for future service that he/she commits to perform.

4] E-CARE shall file all these vouchers and make arrangements for the committed service to be performed in the future. The program participant may have the option of rendering the service for the entire 8 hours per day or partially so he/she can still receive a portion of the day’s pay until the availed amount is fully paid.

E-CARE has actually been doing this in the past on a very much smaller scale. People who needed money for illnesses and other emergency needs have been supported and have subsequently rendered services in payment thereof. One of the success stories involve Aling Luz of the urban poor community of MIramonte, Caloocan. One day, she found herself unable to get up from bed due to numbness and pain in the lower part of her body. This was disastrous for her as she was the lone bread-earner for her family, with his husband also bed-ridden after previously suffering a stroke. Aling Luz was advised to undergo MRI but she did not have the money to pay the cost. Since she was a regular cook, sewer, cleaner and massage therapist in Cathedral Heights, E-CARE funded the MRI procedure to be paid in future services. Following the result of the MRI, she underwent surgery which was also funded by E-CARE. After a few weeks, Aling Luz was up and about and since then rendered various services that allowed her to re-pay the costs of her medical treatment. If the support has not happened, maybe she has joined her husband bed-ridden up to now.

This voucher support system gives the program participants a more dignified way of coping with the current situation as it gives them control over their respective circumstances.

E-CARE invites Episcopalians and friends to support this program by contributing funds. Aside from contributing to the economic relief of needy communities, givers are assured that their contributions will be repaid in the future, either in cash or in kind (services). E-CARE guarantees such repayment.

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