About a couple of weeks ago, I joined TeamHOPE (Helping.Other.People.Endure) in Carles, Iloilo for their rebuilding project in Sitio Nabaye.
I went there alone on a weekend as time permitted me; it took me a plane, a taxi cab, a bus, a tricycle and a boat to get there. While on the road trip, you could smell nature under your nose... Dried grassland, sweet corn and coconut trees. I loved it. It feels good to be in the province (as a Southern girl, I grew up in the province with lots of greens surrounding me, sad to say, in 20 years, my hometown is now a city...).
After finishing around 2 or 3 playlist on my iPod, I got there finally to see my fellow volunteer, Malu, at the port to introduce me to the local people there and guide going to the island. At the island, what I saw first was Merry with a bunch of kids having their face painted and then of course, the dogs and puppies :) what a sweet welcoming gesture these lovely earthlings have (haha!), such a nice view... It's like a big bite from the food for the soul. I joined in with the face-painting and then took a few snaps of the lovely animals that greeted me. At night, when I woke up around 3am I saw a gazillion starts, it was AMAZING, because never in my life would I imagine myself sleeping under the sky...... Okay, that was exaggerated, I could imagine of course and I can do that. But really??! A plywood on the beach to sleep on or if you're lucky to have the spot I had, a bamboo daybed with just your blanket and literally being under the universe! We weren't on vacation but for us, it is paradise.
The next day, the only whole day I had to work with, we did some murals at the school stage at Talinting Elementary School, where the kids at Sitio Nabaye go to, and in between breaks I played football (soccer) with the kids, I must say, I see the potential because they got skills. Then the next morning, Merry, Z, Malu, Sinaj and me taught the kids how to properly brush their teeth and how to treat head lice, I brought a few sachets of the shampoo treatment with me so we did a demo on the process and tips on how to get rid of that annoying filthy things.
I, too, experienced crossing the 2-feet, sometimes 3-feet ocean waters just to go to school everyday. It took us volunteers around 20 minutes to cross it, but for the kids being used to it, only takes them around 5-10 minutes. It makes us laugh but it is a serious matter because it is dangerous when the water gets high.
After maximizing the time I had there with the kids, the volunteers and the whole community, I finally said goodbye to them but told them that I will be back. I had a bit of separation anxiety leaving them but I was alright. I wish I had more time. (Oh well, next time!)
Whenever all the volunteers were together (well, some come and go but it is fine) and complete, it felt like home. My heart was full. God knows that if only I have all the money and time, I would give it all. It is really a calling, but responsibilities and priorities come in the way, that's my reality. Even though with all that drama I have in my bag, I still do find a way to help my fellow volunteers and serve the people in need - in little ways or the best way I know I can, there's no stopping... This is my fire. For me, it's more of these people helping me and not me helping them. In these broken places, I find peace... Here, I find love. I find happiness in simple things, the simple life... Yes, I still choose to grow at a broken place. It is so beautiful to think and to see that with these people, whom you are not related with treat you as family... And together we are united, together we will rise. Day by day, we know deep in our minds and hearts that staying hopeful will help you to succeed.
So let's stay hopeful kids...
This is one of my best experiences in volunteering even if I just stayed for almost 3 days. This one is definitely post-worthy. I have to say, I am so proud of you Miguel, Sinaj and everyone else, for doing it and for being there since day one. I love you guys! :)
If you want to voluntter or donate to TeamHOPE's rebuilding project, you are most welcome, it will be much appreciated. Your 3,500 pesos could make a house, that's right, ONE HOUSE already! But any amount will be a big help.
Here's Miguel Rivera's contact and bank details:
Mobile #: +63 917 545 4535
BF Homes Paranaque Branch
Account name: Jose Miguel A. Rivera
Account Number 0322488450472
Swift Code (for international donations) SETCPHMM
Bank Code Chips UID 010457
For international donations thru Paypal: firstname.lastname@example.org
"Never Stop Caring, Never Stop Helping!" :)
10-peso spaghetti burger? Only in the Philippines.
Miguel's daily commute to get supplies to the island...
Sunset at Sitio Nabaye... Beautiful.