Update on the Philippines

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January 26th 2007
Published: August 1st 2008
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Hi all, blast number two from the Philippines:

Ok, I just read the 30 day report from our Operations Director, Marc Young, and everything I was going to write about is up on the website, at www.hodr.org so I encourage all of you to please go to the website and read what we have been doing for the, well, last three or four weeks! Tomorrow marks my third week here, and boy have we been keeping busy.

I'm going to leave this one short, hoping you can please read the 30-day report (yes, you'll be happy to know, it IS shorter than MY "reports" :-) ) to see how busy we have all been. Mainly, I have been part of the tarping/ roofing crew, though I have spent time at the boat building project, the elementary schools and the library project, wiping down the moldy books. I'll send a few photos while I have internet time and hope to write something longer the next time.

I spend lots of time playing with the kids, high fiving them, and surprisingly, they all seem to know my name. They come out of the woodwork to yell hello to us as we pass by heading TO our jobsites as well as back home again at the end of the day. Of course, once we find ourselves pulling up to a house with our roll of tarpaulin and toolboxes, the children come out of nowhere and all hover over us. Many of them are quite helpful and even clamber onto the roofs, barefooted, to help us hammer in the bamboo battens to the handmade wooden house frames. They are often simple homes, and quite small, housing 3-10 people each. We have tarped simple wooden framed homes smaller than a small bedroom, where two to three families stay at night. These one room "houses" are bedroom, kitchen and common area all in one. Often times they sleep on wooden boards, slightly raised off ground level, and sadly, with all the rain at night, quite wet as well. The beds are not ever fully cleared off, so I can't imagine anyone getting a good night's sleep hunched around boxes and plates, and piles of wood and God knows what else.

A few of us last week helped out a rather aging and frail 77-year old man, with an incredible sense of pride, a wonderful toothless grin and the attitude that if he ever takes a day off work (he is singlehandedly rebuilding his bamboo frame home over a concrete piggery, destroyed by the typhoon!), he may not see tomorrow. So, slow as he is, he keeps plugging along everyday. We helped put a tarp over his "room," even though the walls aren't up yet (thus far we have been concentrating on roofs and not doing wall material yet). That night, it bucketed down with rain, practically nonstop, and when I went to check up on him the following day, he was absolutely thrilled to have gotten his first REAL full night's sleep since the typhoon. He greeted me at the end of the driveway, flashing his toothless smile at me and exclaimed, "When I woke up this morning....it was already light! The sun was already up!" He apparently had been waking up at 4 or 4:30 every morning since early December, so just by having a tarp over his head he was able to get a good night's sleep and not get wet by the rain! Now, THAT feels good!

OK, now you see why I volunteer? It just feels good knowing you can better the lives of others. So simple and so easy to do. We should all do more of it. Now, I'll send some photos.

Oh, one more thing, there are at least 8 volunteers here now who have been to previous Hands ON projects (Thailand, Biloxi, Indonesia), and 2 more coming in a couple of days. If you know anyone who is heading this way or want to come out yourself and try your hand at volunteering, please let me know and I can fill you in with all the details.

Hope all is well. OH, and I will send my contact info in case anyone would like to send care packages. Chocolate, we lack good chocolate...... :-)


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