It’s already months since I have left Volunteer for the Visayans in Tacloban, the nutrition project in Hibaca-an, the Philippines and even Asia. But it will be years until I have fully understood the power of my experience there.
I would like to take the opportunity to close this blog with the biggest thanks to all people who have contributed to this eye-opening time.
Thanks to my family who has planted the seeds for this project long before I knew I would even do it.
Thanks to my husband who has supported me before, during and after.
Thanks to Volunteers for the Visayans for giving me this opportunity and taking good care of.
Thanks to all the other volunteers who have supported and inspired me.
Thanks to all friends who have supported with their thoughts, advice, messages and donation.
This blog covers my experience as a volunteer cook in a small village near Tacloban on Leyte/Philippines with the organization “Volunteer for the Visayans”. I share my experience, thoughts and projects with all my supporters and everyone who was/is interested.
Read from the bottom to the top to follow my (far too short) six weeks of volunteering.
I am more than grateful for this experience. Every moment was well spent and more than worth it.
If you have ever thought about doing a similar thing: Go for it.
I can’t finish this blog without telling you about an amazing project and amazing people. Charlie and Hamlet have strongly influenced and changed my volunteering through their motivation, inspiration and help with whatever needed to be done. And here is one of their biggest projects.
When Charlie told me about “Project 45” it took him two seconds to get me on board for his very own nutrition project. He heard about a nutrition centre in the community of San Joaquin that did not have enough funding . Charlie, being a builder and a helper, took on the project from A-Z. He funded and organised the completion of the centre as well as the supplementary feeding of the 45 worst malnourished kids under the age of six in the community. I am so grateful that I could be part of this project with building, discussions with the healthworkers and finally the first feeding. The kick-off happened on my last day as a present to me as I was looking forward to meeting the kids and their parents before I had to leave. Given that it was only fair that the food for the day, the first aid kit and the kitchen starter kit was our present (thanks to your donations) back to Charlie and the project team.
Every cent and every minute spent on this project turned into gold the moment the mothers got up and thanked us for feeding their kids and the moment the kids dug into their full plate with shining eyes.
Thanks guys for letting me be part of it.
…me singing the German version of 99 red balloons.
After the first sleepover in Cangumbang had been a success on so many different levels, I couldn’t help but do it again. So I cancelled the excursion to a beautiful beach that VfV had planned for all the volunteers and packed my bags with food and games and made my way to my community.
The afternoon started with the regular meal – although this meal wasn’t regular at all – Ginataan vegetables and DRIED FISH. Vegetables and dried fish cooked in Coconut milk. The smile on the kids’ faces when I told them that we had dried fish was priceless (and totally not understandable for me 😉 One girl even thanked me in her farewell letter for the day I made dried fish.
The actual attraction of the day was the Karaoke machine that I rented from the village bakery. It was fired up at around 4 pm in the afternoon and didn’t stop until 11 pm.
While the kids were competing for the next Filipino superstar I prepared the Filipino party food upstairs: Pansit (noodles with veggie and chicken) and lumpia (spring rolls) with the help of Allan (another VfV volunteer), the Nanays and some of the older kids.
We started with the stickbread.
And moved on to the main course.
While everyone continued singing.
A special treat for my Nanays – Tuba (coconut wine) with Coke
And at 11 pm we finally had to turn off the music and went upstairs or home. What a day!
The next one should continue exactly how the last one ended. At 7 am the karaoke machine was turned on again and it was still running when I left at 5 pm. They had hardly time for breakfast and lunch. Filipinos love to sing that’s for sure. And I loved every minute staying with them again.
How could six weeks go by so quickly?
Today is my last day and I am super happy and grateful for the exciting mix of experiences, emotions, connections. A true treasure that made me so much richer.
I’m off for a very busy last day before I’ll meet Philip, Siliva, Henning & Iris for a few days in paradise tomorrow. Before I leave, just a quick preview of last week’s events. Details will follow.
One more sleepover with Karaoke
Finishing touches on Charlie’s nutrition centre – And I am so excited to be part of the first feeding TODAY!
We have a sponsorkid – Mike France, oldest of five
Another Future Funds meeting and the start of the Hibaca-an Peanut Butter operations
And our plants are GROWING!!!
I am more than happy to tell you that with all your help we are able to move one more family away from the dumpsite. During my first visit to the dumpsite I decided that the biggest chunk of my fundraiser should go to a family that lived on the dumpsite and cannot afford to relocate.
Mano Toi Toi and his two daughters Christina and Catrina.
Christina, the older of the two girls, is under the sponsorship program of VfV.
Their current home is close to the dumpsite.
Mano Toi Toi works at the dumpsite every day. He makes about 100 Pesos (2 Euro) a day scavenging for sellable goods and with his small “coffee shop”.
With your donations and a big support from my amazing parents who taught me how to give, we are able to make a big difference to this family’s life! I can’t express how grateful I am!
After we had prepared the garden last week the next task was to get seeds. Of course Hamlet was here to help. He took me to the department of agriculture where I handed in a project proposal on our “community garden”. On top of the promises that were made about training, funds, etc we received two bags of seeds for free.
With enough seeds to cover 2 hectares we started planting on Wednesday. The Nanays were already out and about when we arrived at 8:30 AM in the morning. In an enormous team effort we created as many beds as possible.
And then this guy showed up: “Hi, I’m Reynald from Mobile Soup Kitchens for kids. I saw on VfV’s Facebook page that you are creating a garden. I just came by to give you some seeds!” I was and still am speechless and truly thankful for all these great people with their genuine and big hearts.
After another great day, when all the seeds were planted it started raining. Guess that was a blessing!