An Ark for Cangumbang
Trip Start Aug 07, 2012
19Trip End Feb 07, 2013
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This weekend I totaled up donations yet again and the fund has reached 200 dollars! I am so excited to finally have the few hundred collected. Thanks to a donation by Mr. Worth of the UK, who will be volunteering with VFV in the coming year.
I wanted to finally take some time to update all of you on my most current fundraising efforts for Cangumbang and give all of you the opportunity to learn more about the Evacuation Project.
Most recently I have began creating inserts in my hometown Church bulletin in order to spread the word about the Evacuation Center project. I would like to share with all of you the insert from this past weekend:
During both my trips to the Philippines my eyes and heart were opened to a world far different from life here in the United States. I witnessed poverty I could have never imagined, and living conditions which are quite simply inhumane. I hope in sharing with all of you my experiences that you can share in my awakening, in my realization that having clothes on my back, shoes on my feet, food in my stomach, and a roof over my head is truly a glorious blessing.
This week I would like to challenge all of you to consciously recognize each time your needs are being met. When you effortlessly turn on the hot water in your shower, or assuredly flush your toilet. Each time you drink water from a spout, or flip on a light switch in your home. Try to recognize the sensation of warm food filling your hungry stomach and the comfort of your bed as you drift to sleep. When you drive to work or school or choose your clothing in the morning, when you have quiet moment all alone reflect on how your life would be different if you were living in the Philippines. Imagine if you had no sanitary or private way to go to the bathroom, no shoes to wear, no electricity in your home, and rarely a meal that satisfied your hunger.
Most importantly I want you to imagine what your life would be like if every time it rained your home quickly became flooded with the water of your city's waste, what it would be like if all your belongings were swept away, what it would be like if you were forced to swim among human waste and garbage. Think about what you would do to keep your children safe, or how you would manage to keep yourself healthy when you were exposed to such conditions not annually but monthly.
The people in Cangumbang, a very rural impoverished village in the Philippines, live in this world I am describing. Flood waters submerge their homes relentlessly every year. Floods waters threaten their livelihoods, their families, and their lives. These people who are happy with so little, inevitably and uncontrollably lose something or someone in the flood. They have no place to seek shelter in these disastrous conditions, no means to keep themselves literally afloat. And I am determined to change that.
During my final weeks in Cangumbang last December I spent a great deal of time discussing the future of the community with Sir Aldous, the director of Volunteer for Visayans (the nonprofit organization I volunteered with). He expressed to me his concern that the community would literally never have the ability to rise above the floods and learn to safely sustain themselves in their environment. He told me that the people in Cangumbang have no choice but to live in the area due to not only current economic hardship but also due to lasting debts which bind them to living and working in the community. It may be hard for anyone from a developed nation like ourselves to understand how someone could, even if they were given an opportunity to move away, choose to stay in Cangumbang. But we must understand the reality of their lives. Cangumbang is home to them, the floods are a usual occurrence however devastating the next one may be. It is not easy for anyone in the Philippines to give up a steady income, in order to improve their living conditions. Most of the families in Cangumbang live on their day to day wages, and sudden expense instantly becomes a debt or one night of starvation.
Sir Aldous helped me understand during my last few days that the people in Cangumbang do not desire a way out of Cangumbang, they desire a more effective cohabitation with Mother Nature and her floods. I contemplated this idea many hours while I shoveled mud in the blazing hundred degree weather, or handed out hundreds of stickers to children who saw each sticker as their most prized possession. The people in Cangumbang content with the life God has given them, they celebrate each day they are given and desire only to make it another day.
When Sir Aldous explained to me his dream to save the people of Cangumbang from the terrorizing floods he witnesses every year I was astonished at the possibility of his dream coming true. I have not been able to erase his dream for Cangumbang, a community that accepted me as one of their own when I was so na´ve to the life they lived. His dream has become my next mission in the Philippines. It is not something I can accomplish in a country filled with such dire poverty, among so many people struggling to help their own families live another day. Instead Sir Aldous’s dream is something I can work towards here in the United States. It is a standard of living which we would never think of as anything less than the bare minimum. I believe that if I am able to explain the dream he has for Cangumbang to enough people then he will soon see it become a reality and the people of Cangumbang will have the opportunity to live life in peace.
I am devoted to sharing the story of Cangumbang in order to help the community rise above the natural disaster they so courageously face month after month. I would love to share with all of you the dream Sir Aldous has for Cangumbang and the work I am doing to help make it come true. If you are interested in learning more about my work in the Philippines and about Cangumbang, then I would like to invite you to come talk with me, listen to short power point presentation on my work in the Philippines, and see some more pictures which illustrate what life is like in the Philippines far better than my writing ever could.
Please join me for a tasty snack or refreshments, along with a short presentation at Holy Angels Catholic Church (402 S Nottawa st, Sturgis, MI 49091):
after the 5:30 pm mass next Saturday, October 27th
after the 9:00 am mass
before the 11:15 am mass next Sunday, October 28th.
I invite all of you to join me. For all of you who are much to far away to join me, I will continue to update my blog along the way and share with you the progress I am making towards my goal. Thank you all for taking the time to read my blog, Your thoughts and prayers are always appreciated :)