Meet this Dubai-based Pinoy whose relief aid initiative inspired even expats from other countries to donate

A relief aid initiative that was sustained straight from his own pocket became a donation campaign that encouraged even expats from other countries to contribute as this Filipino resident in Dubai inspires the true meaning of ‘bayanihan’ on a regional scale.
Jahmi Umali Custodio, a 38-year-old expat, started the initiative as a way to honor his mother back in the Philippines on her 60th birthday. He said that since he was not able to go home and be with her on her birthday due to the travel restrictions against coronavirus disease (COVID-19), he wanted to make her happy by doing something right for the community—even if it means spending his hard-earned money.

Now, the initiative has reached beyond borders—with expats from Bahrain and Kuwait pledging to help Custodio and his team sustain their relief aid. He added that these sponsors reached out to him simply because they got inspired by his genuine drive to help.
Custodio said that he became determined to actualize this drive when he saw his fellow Filipinos struggling at the peak of the pandemic, as well as when he experienced first-hand what it was like to affected by the crisis—noting that even he had his salary reduced for three months as his company tries to ensure business continuity.

“Ang nag-udyok po sa akin ay ang mga tao dito sa Dubai, especially mga kababayan naten. Kahit sa panaginip, hindi ko maisip na talagang nangyayari ito, na meron pala talaga tayong mga kababayan ngayon na nagugutom at walang wala na talaga,” he said.
He added that he used the budget that was supposed to be spent on their vacation to the Philippines to kick-start the operations in Dubai together with his workmates Arnold Francisco and Aeyar John Mogro.

Custodio, Mogro, and Franciso in one of their donation drives
“Naisip namin ng wife ko na i-donate nalang ung kalahati ng budget namin sa mga nawalan ng work, naka no-work-no-pay, at mga visit visa naten na mga kababayan dito sa Dubai,” Custodia said. “Sabi ko kay Lord willing po ako tumulong sa mga nangangailangan, ang hihingin ko lang po ay pakilayo niyo po ako sa sakit mga mahal ko sa buhay.”
Custodio added that it was supposed to be a onetime thing, but after it made rounds on social media, a lot of people have encouraged him to continue, with many of them pledging help.

Now, the three of them are planning to conduct the fifth wave of their donation drive. It became so big, he said, that they created a Facebook page—called ‘COVID19 DXB Bayanihan’—in order to streamline their operations.
“Basta ang importante lang bukal sa loob ang pagtulong. Ginagawa naten ito para maka-encourage sa ibang tao na may kakayahang tumulong sa mga nangangailangan. Kailangan nating ipakita sa buong mundo na iba tayong mga pinoy. Na kahit saan man tayo sa mundo, nandoon pa din ang pagiging matulungin natin sa kapwa,” he said.

Staff Report

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