Constructing Support

Trip Start Feb 20, 2013
Trip End May 09, 2013

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Flag of Philippines  , Eastern Visayas,
Friday, March 22, 2013

Hello Everyone,

Today the project workers spent the majority of the day constructing the scaffolding that will allow them to create the frames for the second floor. As I watched them lay piece after piece of coco lumber, and hammer nail after nail, I couldn't help but reflect on the amount of support each one of them were giving us. On previous construction projects, I have observed many children help but for the most part it has been international volunteers who make the projects happen so quickly. In the case of the Cangumbang Community Center project, it is clearly the locals who are making this project a success already. They work tirelessly all day, along with many of the children. It is so amazing to see their commitment to the project, and I think their hard work now will make their dedication to maintaining the center even greater. 

Again today I found myself gazing at the center in awe of the progress we have made in just 2 weeks. By next week we will already be working on the early stages of creating a second floor. Every day I can begin to picture the real appearance of the center, and imagine the children playing underneath in the shade while their parents prepare a meal upstairs. It is an incredible feeling to witness this project, I wish each of you could be right next to me each day.

Almost every day when I arrive I am welcomed by squeals and screams of "Ate Elsa!!" The motorcycle drivers always smile or look at me surprised that so many children recognize me so instantaneously. But the drivers themselves are beginning to recognize me too, and I hardly even have to tell them where to take me anymore. Each day when I leave, or even when I just run in to town to the hardware store, at least two or three children walk me to the waiting area for motorcycles. Sometimes I have three or more children pulling at my hands and clothes, even just to get a finger on me. I can't even walk across the site without being followed by a few of them, or when I sit down to take a rest I am never alone. At times it is difficult to deal with so much attention throughout the day, especially when the heat hits its' high or my energy has been drained. But I try to take a moment to step back and remember why they are so attached to me and why they have such a great desire to be near me.

The children know they can trust me, they can come to me when they are in need and I will listen. Yes, every day the children are asking me for or juice or stickers. But almost every day there are also children who come to me with obvious essential needs. One little 3 year old came up itching like crazy because of bug bites all over her skin, after applying some bite cream for two days it has almost completely disappeared. During lunch there are often children who observe others eating and I can tell by the look in their eyes that they are really truly hungry and have no food. I try to slip away with a few of them when no one is looking to buy them bread or a small snack to fill their belly until dinner. I can't help but feed them when I know they are not greedy, but simply asking me to fulfill an honest need.

This center is going to change the lives of so many people. There are so many components that will need to be developed after the physical structure is there; but in building the center I am learning every day where the need is and who has the greatest need. I am learning who shares their burdens with one another and who is left alone to fend for themselves. These are all important parts of making a community center a success. I cannot wait to see Cangumbang develop year after year.

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Suzy on

What do the mothers think of the kids off watching/playing? Do they keep an eye on the little ones? Do they show thanks to you? Not that you are being mischievous, but I know pride often leads people to be overly skeptical of others, etc.

elsat on

The Mothers have a good relationship with me too. Their children always introduce us or point us out to one another. They spend a lot of time inside taking care of younger infant siblings, and many of them hang out around in the shade near the site with the babies and keep an eye on things too. Most of them are shy to express their thanks to me directly, but the children and some of the VFV staff have shared their thanks with me. :)

Mom on

I can't imagine watching some eat while others go hungry, how awful. Hopefully we can get more of those kids sponsored so they can get daily meals also. Maybe put that information in another blog. Who to contact, the cost of sponsorship, what that means for the kids...
You are amazing!

Suzy on

I might be getting my students to raise some money to sponsor a kid!

elsat on

That is great! Just let me know :)

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