Sis. Avelina Rodriguez-Baxa of JIL Netherlands received the “Lid van Oranje Nassau” (Member of the Order of the House of Orange) medal last April 24, 2020, which was presented by the Mayor of South Holland province Johan Remkes on behalf of King Willem of the Netherlands.

She was one of the three Filipinos to receive the award, which is given to Dutch citizens and foreign nationals alike who have made meritorious contributions to public service and voluntary activities.

Sis. Avelina’s volunteer work includes providing counseling, training, and practical assistance to Filipino migrant workers living under difficult situations.

It all started in the 1980s, during the height of domestic violence in The Netherlands, where “mail order brides” were rampant. She worked for the welfare of entertainers and for those in inter-marriages and focused on improving the occupational and social position of Filipino workers.

Sis. Avelina led the fish net making project at Brgy. Casilian, Bacarra, Ilocos Norte

Sis. Avelina led the goat-raising/breeding project at Brgy. Baraniw, Cabaruan, Casilian, Bacarra, Ilocos Norte

Sis. Avelina interviewed by TV Patrol Ilocos Region on 2010

For that, she co-founded Samahan ng Manggagawang Pilipino sa Netherlands (SAMAHAN) together with her husband and three other Filipinos. She further became a board member of Stichting Kapatiran from 1993-2018, which supported underprivileged and indigent children.

Still, the “Koninklijke onderscheidingen” (royal honors) is not Sis. Avelina’s first award. In 2005, she received a gold medal award by Bombo Radio Ilocos Norte in recognition of her efforts in the microfinance of livelihood projects for unemployed mothers in Bacarra, Ilocos Norte, where she came from. Furthermore, in 2010, she became a recipient of a special recognition by TV Patrol Ilocos Region through the Basic Literacy Program she was engaged in. The following year, the foundation further received the Presidential Banaag Award.

But aside from her social work, Sis. Avelina is also actively involved in the ministry. Aside from being one of the five pioneer members of JIL Netherlands, she also held several ministry positions: Secretary of Board (1994-2006), Bible Study Cell Group Leader (1994-1999), Education Ministry Head (1994-2009), and Editor-in-Chief of the JIL NL newsletter “In Pace With God” (1998-2001). Presently, Sis. Avelina is the church coordinator of JIL Rotterdam.

From a “fellowship partner scholar” finishing her MA degree in Development Studies at the Erasmus University Rotterdam International Institute of Social Studies, Sis. Avelina’s journey turned out to be a fulfilling and “others-uplifting” journey. It even turned out to be a successful and decorated one. But for all these, she herself attests, “It is all for the glory of my God!”