Sometimes, first chances are just bridges to the best opportunities for yourself. This is what Riel Andaluz, Head of Strategic Partnerships for Save the Children, has come to realize when she made her first (and last) career shift.

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“I’ve been with Save the Children for almost 17 years,” she shared during the launch of the #LahatSanta fundraising campaign. “My first job…I was a flight attendant. It’s so funny how I got into Save the Children because I was pregnant with my second child, and I never thought an organization would hire someone who was pregnant and about to give birth in like, five months.

“But because it was Save the Children, it didn’t matter. So that was 2001, and the rest is history.”

It’s a history of almost 17 years of service, and she has never looked back since.

“To tell you honestly since I got into Save the Children, I never really found the need to look for another job. I feel like I’m so blessed to have found a job that enables me to do what I’m best at, and at the same time makes me feel good about what I get in return for doing a good job. I get to help children. I get to help kind people. I get to work with them."

Save the Children is an NGO that aims to improve the lives of children in need of proper nutrition and education. It has also been at the forefront of support operations during major disasters like Typhoon Yolanda, where they reached over 5.1 million kids through fundraising projects and the kindness of donors.

This year, Save the Children pushes for #LahatSanta, a campaign encouraging companies and individuals alike to become volunteers this Christmas season. The premise is simple: you only need to sign up on their website and you’ll receive a kit that includes a poster, a Santa hat, and a coin back which can help you start off your personal fund-raising activity. 

“It’s about the act of participation,” Riel said. When asked about her most memorable experience with working for an NGO, she cited that there’s really no one instance, as every moment was gratifying.

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“I don’t work directly implementing programs. I’m in the backseat. I help raise funds for children, and that’s totally fine. I don’t have to be [in] the war zone to be able to help children.

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“But whenever I think of all the wonderful things that Save the Children is able to do because of partnerships that I helped to make possible, then that’s a such a big reward for me.”

Riel also explains that while it may be hard for some individuals to shift from a corporate job to an NGO career that requires experience in health, education, and child protection, independent groups are always in need of professional expertise in different fields. “Of course we have our finance, our admin, our IT, and we have fund raising, which is basically the marketing side of our organization. So we need those skills coming from the private sector as well.”

They are also always open for those interested to volunteer, not just during Christmas, but beyond it.

“There are so many ways you can make a difference, as [little] as sharing articles that we post on our Facebook page, sharing information… that’s also a kind of volunteering because you help us spread the word.

“So I say just try it,” Riel smiled. “You’ll never know until you try.”

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