14. February 2013 by swissfitchick
Good morning! Happy Valentines Day! What a great day to show some love with Thankful Thursday.
Let’s be thankful today and join in the campaign hosted by beautiful Jessie!
Back in 2007 I decided to do a volunteership in the Philippines. It was my dream since I was a little girl to go to a country and help people and children who are not as privileged as I am. I was planning to start my studies in Social Work in September 2007 which for I had to quit my job. So I decided to quit a few months earlier and make my dream come true.
After some research I registered with this organization and a few months later I sat on the plane all on my own on my way to an unknown country without a clue what was expecting me.
Since the Philippines are my absolute dream destination I wanted to explore some of the islands before I started working and travelled around for 1 month on my own. After this month full of colorful, beautiful and exciting impressions I headed on to Long Beach, a little village on Romblon Islands, where my guest family lives.
Together with me was Jen – a girl from Vancouver who participated in the same program as me. I was so happy to get to know her, because it does feel a little strange when you are in the middle of all these lovely Filippinos as a white blonde girl. Jen and me had very intense 2 months on the island and a very deep and still lasting friendship developed between us.
Jen was teaching English for 1st and 2nd grad classes (am I right Jen? Not sure anymore) while I was outside painting the roofs 🙂 and teaching kindergarden kiddies in the afternoon. Both jobs were not easy. Painting the roof was fun, but you can not imagine how HOT it was up there. Well. Today the roof is still green and clean and I am proud of it. I was there last November and checked! 🙂
Teaching the kids was sweet, but it took a while until they opened up to me which is totally understandable. I was like an alien for them 🙂 But they were so excited about the things I did with them, like playing soccer, singing, painting, painting shirts etc.
My family was absolutely wonderful. They treated me like their own daughter and showed me so much love it was incredible. I was so happy when I saw them again last November, since I really miss them a lot. Especially the daughter. I never lost my heart to a child like this. Genevieve was 5 years old when I was there and we spent all my freetime together. I never had that with a child before. I had the hardest time to leave her.
The house was very simple. Access to water and electricity was very limited, like a few hours a day, so we really had to save it. We went to bed very early because we had no light anymore but then got up with the sun. The house was placed right at the beach which was absolutely beautiful. There was no fridge or a ‘normal’ shower like the one we are used to. But I was absolutely fine with everything – it took me a few days until I was adapted to this new life. The only thing I could not get used to were the cockroaches in the bathroom at night!! Gross!!!
In the last few weeks of our volunteership, Jen and I were creating a new project. We realized that the teachers and students did not have enough schoolbooks. About 30% of the students did not have a book. So we offered the teachers to handcopy important stuff from the books, so they could use it as posters and Pin Cards in their classrooms. It was a nice job. I got to spend a lot of time with Jen, the teachers were very pleased and in the breaks all the students came to the library, watching us work.
I never experienced more thankfulness than in this time and place. I was touched and so impressed by the attitude of the people there. Most of them had nothing. NOTHING. We went to visit the slums of Manila and you can believe me that this makes you just so so sad. But you know what? The people there were smiling!
My family in Long Beach live so simple. They work so hard and still – they are the happiest people I’ve ever seen. And so supportive to each other. We can really learn a lot from them!
One could think that my ED shut up when I was there. But it did not. As you can see, I was quite some kilos heavier than today. That came from binging without purging or other compensating. I was very very unhappy about my body then. But I can say that I took the most advantage out of this time and I did really well despite the loud ED voice in my head. Isn’t it unbelivable that it does not go away even though you see people living in poverty and forced to starve??
Now what my message of this post is: Live your dream. No matter what. THIS was one of my dreams and I am SO thankful to myself that I went for it. This is an experience that taught me for life and no one can ever take it from me.
If you are interested in more detailed stories from my time on the Philippines, please check my Island Blog! All the posts from 2007 are related to this journey.
Did you ever travel to a poor country?
What is your dream?