July| Vol. 22 No. 8.02 | Christian's Chronicles © 2015 – All rights reserved.
Greetings, from Bohol, with another sporadic update!
Internet access here is somewhat of an issue, hence the less frequent updates. In fact, I do not quite have all the time I’d like, so this update itself will be rather short. First, a recap. I arrived in the Philippines to volunteer doing disaster recovery work on the 13th of December. It was Friday the 13th, and true to form, bad luck seemed to be the theme of the day. Some of my luggage was missing. Some days later, I lost my backpack and laptop, too. I eventually recovered everything, but you can read about that here.
I live in a tent in a camp full of volunteers from across the globe, all of whom are in Bohol to help victims of the earthquake and subsequent typhoon rebuild their damaged homes. A typical day goes roughly like this:
> 6:00 AM – Wake up, get some breakfast, bandage the many scratches I’ve accumulated, do some minimal hygiene, and get ready for work.
7:00 AM – Be ready to head out to work. This is accomplished either by riding on one of two bus type thingies called ‘jeepney’ or something like that around these parts, or by walking. Our tools are things like shovels, sledge hammers (my all-time favorite), crow-bars, and the like. Team leaders ensure that we pack all the necessary items, including loads of water, and head out on time.
7:15 – 11:30 – Go to work! Ride or walk to one of several preselected sites and tear down damaged buildings. This is generally done in three phases that range from ensuring that it is safe to work on the site to clearing up the rubble that is left after reusable parts are taken out and everything is deconstructed.
11:30 – 1:00 PM – Head back to camp to have lunch and relax for a while.
1:00 – 4:30 PM – More work! Complete the site as much as possible, then pack up the tools and head back to the camp site.
5:00 – 6:00 PM – Dinner & shower. There are 2 showers with running water, and others which require the creative use of buckets. Due to the limited resources and the number of volunteers that need them, spontaneous cycles have developed whereby some get their meals in the communal kitchen while others shower, and vice versa. It all works out, everyone is friendly, and we all get along well. And they did not make me write that…
6:00 PM: Meeting time. We gather around the tree with some surrounding tables and chairs, and discuss the day’s work, next day’s work, any new arrivals and departures. Almost every day new faces show up, and some old ones leave. There is never a dull moment, and many volunteers from places including Russia, France, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, and many other countries, including the Philippines, all work together alongside one another like a happy, diverse family of camping enthusiasts who do not mind bearing the burdens and discomforts of volunteer work to serve a good cause.
6:30 – 10:00 PM – Downtime. Time to swap stories, share the adventures of the day, and buy some beer from our local caretaker of sorts by the pool, to make it all go down a little easier.
10:00 PM – Quiet time. Lights out! That includes the Christmas-type lights around the tree, as well as the porch light and every other light around the camp. Conversations may continue, but come to a whisper, as some of those who want to finish their drinks continue to talk for a bit longer.
I do not have time to explain all the intricacies and exigencies of the crazy little camp where we sleep in our tents, but one thing all of us greatly enjoy is all the children who wave to us as we make our way to the job-sites. They run out to the side of the road and greet us every day with bright smiles and arms waiving enthusiastically. The locals give us gifts of bananas, coconuts, and other treats. They really appreciate our work, and they let us know with smiles, kind gestures, and sometimes even signs and other thank-you gifts.
More updates, stories, and pictures coming soon!
Here’s a link to the album of pictures on The Chronicle’s Facebook page: