KALIBO, Aklan—A conversation can do wonders. A safe space where people freely talk about their predicaments and anxieties to someone who listens intently without prejudice, offers advice whether solicited or un, and prays for their healing is therapeutic. Sometimes all one needs is to have one’s feelings validated, one’s thoughts articulated, and one’s actions understood.
So many are suffering, as can be read online in overt suicidal posts or in subtle suggestions of depression. It takes a specific sensitivity as well as clinical training to recognize those who are emotionally ailing and in dire need of intervention. The signs and symptoms differ in every person and some are just too good at pretense, playacting that everything is okay when deep inside their world is crumbling.
What happens when they are overpowered by their problems? When the darkness lures the inner demons that they have long kept a secret? When the burden has become too heavy to carry but they do not know how to start unloading?
There’s help to be had that goes beyond shallow commiseration, and it’s called “Thank God It’s Wednesday” or TGIW. The visionary behind the project cum support group is Bishop Roberto M. Labor of Glad Tidings New Life Kalibo; the vision has been given hands and feet by Pastor Edwin Radones, Pastor Myrl Labor-Radones, and their team.
The main purpose of TGIW is to provide a safe space for those in need, where they can go should they feel compelled to talk about their difficulties or to seek spiritual healing. They may even ask to be prayed over for a desire or dream, or to meditate by themselves—all without judgment or pressure.
The place is referred to as the “life house” beside the Aklan Inter Faith Academy in Kalibo and is open, as its name announces, every Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The volunteers offer free bread and coffee to every friend or stranger who comes.
TGIW was launched last May 10. Many came on its opening day, although some were quite unaware of its purpose, why it came about. When one is offered conversation, particularly if one is suffering a strong absence of the comfort of connection, one may be drawn to the “life house,” perhaps initially out of curiosity. Then, through the course of the tête-à-tête, one may realize its impact. It is not every day that one finds people who give their time freely and who share their resources to make others feel that they matter.
Simply described, Thank God It’s Wednesday is selflessness, compassion and lifeline.
Mental health awareness
One of the project’s staunch supporters is Kalibo Councilor Matt Aaron Guzman, who, aside from being close friends with Pastors Edwin and Myrl, has long been a strong advocate of mental health awareness. Through radio dialogues and his social media platform, he has helped spread the word about TGIW and encouraged people to visit.
Since the pandemic, Guzman had been thinking of organizing a project of conversing over coffee, particularly for those who feel the need to disencumber themselves of toxicity and negativity. And as though God had intervened, he found himself visiting the pastors who were then finalizing preparations for TGIW and were set to launch it within two weeks.
Pastor Myrl affirmed in a radio interview that the making of TGIW was a miracle in itself because, she said, God sent people who became catalysts in making the vision turn into reality.
Those who have come to TGIW say they felt an invigorating feeling, as though seeing light at the end of the tunnel. Many are thankful for Pastors Edwin and Myrl and their community of volunteers who, with kindness and compassion, are willing to share their time and resources and are faithful instruments of God’s love in uplifting the lives of others.
TGIW has thus been an avenue for interaction between those seeking conversation and volunteers who provide it. Every Wednesday, more than 100 people come to the life house, for varied purposes, and they leave with a lighter heart, a lesser burden, a rejuvenated spirit. They find that just being able to talk helps clear the mind and unburden the weary soul.
It’s obvious: We need to become a proactive and empathetic community with a sense of responsibility for other people’s life and well-being. It is not enough to live; what is essential is being able to touch lives, change lives, and save lives.
Hello there, someone who matters!
Life can be tough, even cruel, and sometimes it can feel like being trapped, asphyxiated, and there is no way out. But please know that there is always hope, and there are people who truly care about you. The only way to survive is to keep going, to keep your head above water.
If you are struggling with any suicidal thoughts, do not hesitate to reach out to someone for help. Whether a family member, a friend, or a professional, there are people you can trust and who want to support you and help you overcome this difficult time.
Remember that you are not alone in your anguish. There are people who love you and care for you. There are millions of people around the world who have struggled with similar thoughts and burdens, and there are resources available to relieve you of the pain you are feeling. You are important, and your life, regardless of how wrecked it may seem at the moment, has meaning and purpose.
Feeling as though you are at the end of your rope? Take a deep breath and reach out for help. You are worthy of love and support, and there are people who are ready and willing to be there for you. Do not give up on yourself because you deserve to live a happy and fulfilling life, and you are capable of achieving it. (Choose to Live Facebook Fan Page)