Millie Kilayko (Negrense Volunteers for Change, Inc.) | Pinay.com
Every person is born with a purpose. While some are still trying to determine what their calling truly is, here’s a Filipina who knew her calling early in life. Millie Kilayko is the founder and CEO of Negrense Volunteers for Change Foundation, Inc. (NVC), a significant non-profit organization in Bacolod City that provides fishing boats for fishermen, school books and nutrition for children, and more.
Even Google has recognized NVC for it’s important contributions to the Philippine people who most need assistance. The giant internet company has supported NVC, sending their own employees to volunteer and help out NVC’s causes and advocacies.
Millie is a Pinay who truly shines in her service to humanity, and helps other people, Filipinos and non-Filipinos serve hundreds, even thousands of people in the Philippines. She says that her life purpose came quite naturally.
Growing Up Charitable
One of four siblings, Millie grew up in a family of altruistic people in Bacolod City, Philippines. Millie’s mother had always been involved in social work such as organizing feeding programs for the elderly in homes for the aged. Her grandmother, on the other hand, grew plants to sell with whatever money she earned going to charitable institutions. Before the Agrarian Reform in the Philippines, her uncle had given up his land and allowed his people to buy a part of it to farm it as their own. Millie says it was something that she saw around her.
She finished her studies at the University of St. La Salle in Bacolod City, her hometown. Millie admits with amusement that she was never the studious kind because she has always had this restlessness within her. Although her parents were never strict with her when it came to her academics, they always made sure to make her aware of the importance of doing things for people who have less in life. “Doing [things like] these for others was something that I was always encouraged to do,” Millie explains, “It was something taught to me just like how the alphabet was taught to me.”
Helping People Beyond Borders
NVC or Negrense Volunteers for Change was once a mustard seed that today keeps on growing. With an initial batch of only Negrense volunteers, it started last 2010 with the primary goal of creating change within their own communities. “We just wanted to start with our own backyards,” Millie shares, “We go with Gandhi’s quotation: ‘If you sweep your own backyard, the world would be clean’”. According to Millie, the only thing that they wanted to do before was to organize feeding programs for the poor within the province but then, things happened one after the other.
Spreading Goodness Through Various Projects
With the help of the Department of Science and Technology and several selfless people, they were able to start manufacturing Mingo Meals, a nutritious, instant food powder made of rice, monggo beans, and malunggay (Moringa). When mixed with water, this powder turns into a rich porridge. Mingo was originally intended as complementary food for infants and toddlers to combat malnutrition. Eventually, the instant meals were also used for emergency relief, not just within Negros but also in other provinces in the country.
The success of Mingo Meals paved the way for Peter Project to happen, after one member’s friend heard of NVC and donated a fishing boat to them. This project aims to help fishermen’s helpers and fishermen who lost their boats and livelihood to typhoons that hit the country, by giving them a fiber glass boat of their own. Millie says that the donated boats eventually came in hundreds, a majority of them from big companies and large foundations she didn’t even know of. For Millie, the stories of the recipients are one of the things that motivate them and her most especially.
As of May 31, 2018, NVC has served over 7,188,086 Mingo Meals to children and disaster refugees, has more than 4,939 fisherfolk beneficiaries of their Peter Project, and has constructed 201 public school classrooms under their School Support Project. The foundation continues to help skilled people in poor communities earn a living by providing them with necessary resources and tools and by training them to create salable crafts, under Project Joseph and Artisans of Hope respectively.
Coping With the Help of Creativity
Sustaining the projects when there is still so much need is the biggest challenge for NVC. Millie emphasizes that they’re not like corporate foundations that have fixed income. “We live on the kindness and generosity of people,” she says. Artisans of Hope, a hobby-turned-business venture of Millie, is one of their sustainable sources for funds.
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
Prior NVC, Millie had already been involved in non-profit organizations in one way or another. “I guess…I’ve always been looking for something beyond existing day to day,” she shares. Despite this, she describes herself as an ordinary person, “…it’s just that I have great people around me—really wonderful people who have a heart and who have a passion.” For all that she has accomplished, Millie also remembers to give all the credit back to God.
When asked about the future, Millie says she isn’t really much of a planner and just accepts whatever opportunity, mission, or challenge the Lord gives her. “I always just pray that I will always have the eyes to see and the ears to be able to hear the challenge…and of course the heart to be able to fulfill it”, she expressed.
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