Zac Mansing: Volunteer on a wheelchair
MANDUE CITY, Cebu — Zacarias “Zac” Mansing Jr., 48, has lived the last 10 years of his life on a wheelchair.
He became paralyzed from his chest to his feet after he figured in a vehicular accident in November 2012 while working in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
But instead of feeling depressed, he opted to continue to look at the brighter side of life and be grateful that he was still alive.
And despite his disability, Mansing, a business administration graduate at the Siliman University, has been doing volunteer work to promote children’s development and love for reading. He has been donating books to school children in at least 21 localities in Negros Oriental.
He is also a motivational speaker whose favorite topic is building personal resilience or bouncing back from adversities and trials.
“I just want to encourage people not to give up,” he said.
Mansing said that doing volunteer works had also been his social therapy.
And in recognition of his volunteerism and dedication, Mansing was named as the Oustanding Volunteer winner in the Individual Adult Category by the Regional Development Council in Central Visayas during its fourth quarter full council meeting that was held in Cebu City last Dec. 6.
He was cited for his “invaluable volunteer work as the founder of the Books for Kids Project, a donation drive that provides educational books to more than 250 public schools and over 50,000 school children in Negros Oriental.”
The project supports “Every Child A Reader Program” and “Synchronized School Wide Reading Program” of the Department of Education (DepEd).
Spinal chord injury
Mansing said that even when he was younger, he always had the passion to help, especially the children. Two of his sisters work as public school teachers in Negros Oriental. He also had his chance to teach part-time before he left for Abu Dhabi in 2005 to work as a human resource development and organizational development specialist.
Then, the accident happened in November 2012 which badly injured his spinal chord and kept him in the hospital there for a year and two months.
Left with a permanent disability, Mansing said, he returned to his family in Banilad, Dumaguete City in February 2014 “and life has been totally different since then.”
Three years later or in 2017, he decided to do his first volunteer work by joining the Brigada Eskwela program of DepEd.
“Never gyud naabot nako nga madepress, magself pity. Instead, I always look at what’s positive, the brighter side of life,” he said.
(I never reached a point that I got depressed, and I felt self pity. Instead, I always look at what’s positive, the brigher side of life.)
Books for Children
With his advocacy to help children, Mansing started an outreach program by donating books to five schools in their city. These books were all kept in the libraries of the respective schools, he said.
“Nidecide ko nga books dili pagkaon kay kun pagkaon ka usa ra man. Kun books magamit pa na sa uban na magsunod,” he said.
(I decided for books and not food because if food it can only be given one time, but books, this can be used by others that will follow.)
Wanting to make his initiative sustainable and in order to reach more school children, he later on spearheaded the “Books for Kids Project.”
He partnered with Booksale to purchase children’s books that are sold at a discount or at P5 to P20 per piece and distributed these to the different schools in Negros Oriental.
To date, Mansing said he already reached at least 250 public schools that were located in 21 localities in their province, which earned him the monicker “Mr. Bookman.”
Aside from donating books that would help in children’s education, Mansing said, he would also interact with the teachers and the school children during his visits to especially promote disability awareness, anti-bullying, inclusive education and the need for personal resilience.
“Mostorya gyud ko sa mga teachers nga dapat dili gamiton nga reason ang disability to decline a child’s enrolment,” he told CDN Digital.
(I always talk to the teachers that they should not use disability as a reason to decline a child’s enrolment.)
Mansing admitted that doing volunteer work was never easy for him. The need to always travel despite his physical handicap and financial constraints were the biggest challenges that he had to overcome.
But he was just grateful that “blessings” would always come his way.
“It is always better to give than to receive kay moabot ra gyud ang blessings (because the blessings will always come),” he said.
Mansing, who has been jobless since his accident in 2012, relies on his pension and the rentals of rooms that he is leasing.
He later on started to get financial aid for his “Books for Kids Project” from some of his high school classmates who are now working abroad to purchase more books.
When he travels, he would always require the company of at least two individuals who would help carry him to and from his wheelchair.
And to refrain from going, especially to schools that are located in remote areas in Negros Oriental, he would normally invite school representatives to come and join him in a particular venue where the distribution of books would be held.
“Usahay kun kapuyon na gyud ko, moinom lang kog tubig unya pahuway. Inig kahuman balik na pud,” he said.
(Sometimes, if I get really tired, I will just drink water and rest for a while. When that is done, then it is back to what I was doing.)
Mansing said he was never tired of visiting schools and distributing books. He also wanted to show that “being a volunteer is not exclusive to those who are physically abled.”
“When I was still physically abled, I wasn’t even able to go to these schools,” he added.
Finding purpose in life
Mansing said he found his life’s purpose when he started doing volunteer work. And he feels so much joy every time that he is able to donate books to school children.
“We just have to do good because when we do good, we feel good. We make an impact, we make a difference [in the lives of others],” he said.
“I wanted to show that volunteerism is breaking barriers to be a difference maker,” he added.
He also feels very happy every time that his efforts are appreciated and recognized.
Aside from the RDC recognition, Mansing has also won several awards in the past. In 2019, he was named regional winner in the Gawad Geny Lopez Bayaning Pilipino Awards. His family was also given the Jollibee Family Values Award.
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