Finding A Way to Come to Terms

Trip Start Jun 28, 2013
Trip End Aug 25, 2014

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Flag of Philippines  , Visayas,
Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Hello Everyone,

After eating a delicious lemon grass fish at a local restaurant, followed by a refreshing mango shake at a coffee shop, where I comfortably lounged on an oversized chair, I couldn't help but feel guilty to have splurged on myself (even if in total the cost was under 10 US dollars). As Carter and I waited for the right multi cab to effortlessly take us to the gate of our apartment, I also couldn’t help but notice a little boy across the street on a pedicab. As he slept peacefully along one of the major roads in the city at 10 pm, I noticed his father nearby squatting by the curb, digging through the left over bags of garbage. Behind me stood the oldest church in Tacloban, and in front of me a person clearly in need of grace and humility. It is times like these that I cannot stand by and simply observe; my heart aches and I cannot let myself walk away. I know I have lived here for over a year now, if I add up all my volunteer, intern, and now expat life, so maybe I am supposed to be immune to these individuals in society. But I find myself wondering if I will truly ever be able to look past a person in need, and then I think why should I try? Is it better to learn to ignore a person in need, then to spend money each day on helping others instead of building a savings for myself? These questions tumble through my brain but the outcome is always the same.

I walked across the street to a food stand and bought two large meat filled pastries, Siopao, and slowly walked up to the man. I felt his eyes on me as I was handed the food, and as I walked up to him he peered up at me curiously, but never stood to meet my eyes. In these situations I always feel many words are not needed, so I simply said "Here Kuya, God Bless you," smiled at his child’s relaxed face and walked away.

Sunday I was picking up my clean laundry from the laundry shop down the street from my house. As I waited for the sale woman to bring my chance a little boy peeked his head inside and said in a low, hardened voice “Ate, Palit ka?” (Ate you buy) and he held up his small bags of boiled peanuts. I smiled at him and waited for my change. When I walked out he was still interested in selling me the peanuts. Instead of handing over the 10 pesos (25 cents), I asked him “Gutom ka?” (Are you hungry?). His response of course was yes, a sure nod of the head. “Gusto mo tinapay?” (Do you like bread?), and again of course he repeated his latter nod. So I motioned for him to follow me and he did after I turned back and said “Palit ako hin tinapay,” meaning I would buy him some bread if he followed me. When we got to the bread shop I was peering through glass at all the options, I am completely clueless when it come to good bread myself since I am gluten-intolerant. I have only the advice of my kids in Cangumbang to help me figure out what is good and bad to buy. As I tried to decide I looked to the child and saw him focusing on a small loaf of sweet bread, so I asked him if he wanted it, paid the cashier, handed off the bag, and was yet again on my way home without guilt hanging over my hear or tugging at my heart.

I find buying food to be so much more meaningful than giving money to those in need or those asking for help.  I wish I could buy food for every single person I saw that was hungry. In Cangumbang especially, if I did so, I would be handing out food nearly all day. Even Tuesday morning when I visited Cangumbang for a short period, my little Jon-Jon was able to eat three big rolls of bread.

It is hard to put these lessons in to words, without the daily experience of them, the constant witnessing and observing. But I hope my words can express the true struggles of others for food and resources.

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Sawa on

Your heart is beautiful, Elsa. If only one fraction of the world saw and responded to need as you do, we would have no hunger in the world.

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