When I was in Barcelona last November, I got a newsletter from All Hands Volunteers, the NGO I always want to join since 2 years ago. From the newsletter, I got info that they opened the project in Philippines to help the people who suffered from the Haiyan Typhoon at Nov 8 2013. So, I signed up for the project and got accepted to join them in Leyte Island, near Cebu.
Once I arrived in Ormoc, Kattie, the volunteer coordinator, gave us a brief introduction about the base, the works and all the rules we need to follow. I started to work the next day with a group. We deconstructed the house so the owner can build new house. To be honest, that was my first time using curl bar, sledge hammer, safety goggles and working gloves. We start to work at 7.30 am and finish at 4.30 pm (with lunch break for about 1 hour). Beside deconstruct the houses, we also help the community cleaning the schools, chapels or churches, canals (due to Dengue fever prevention) and also the hospitals. My favorite one was cleaning the hospital. They ran out of the rooms for the children so they had to put the patients on the tents. I couldn’t imagine this; you suffered from the typhoon and also had to stay on the tents. We also saw lots of patients were sleeping on the hallway. We worked for about 3 days at the hospital and it was really great to see the huge difference. No more tents and people sleep on the hallway.
Volunteering taught me few things. For example: I learn how to be grateful for every single things I have. I was amazed by how grateful and strong are the Philippinos. They still can smile and help us to clean their houses. I will never forget their eyes and smiles! We helped to clean the house and workshop of the young man. After we finished cleaning, he said that it was his New Year’s gift. He can continue his life although he has to start from zero. I almost cried at that time. The local kids never failed to amaze us also. They love our tools like wheel barrows, hammers and shovels. They help us a lot! It was hard for me to tell them that we won’t come to their place again after we finished the job. How can you said NO to kids when they ask you: “Will you come again?”
Beside the local people, my fellow volunteers amazed me also. They flew from all over the world just to help. Hats off also to the ladies, our works were tough and they still can smile! Not to mention that we live with very basic facilities, no running water, generator electricity, portioned food and no bed (you have to bring your own mattress). So if you ask me which place I want to visit…I can easily answer: I want to be in Ormoc with my volunteer friends and help the local people there. For me, it was so hard to leave the base..leave my good friends and the smiley local people. But I definitely will be back
About The Author: Sysilia Tanhati is an Indonesian girl who loves to travel and meet new people. I left my 8-5 job last September 2013 and did the Camino de Santiago, my long overdue dreams. I do my bag project, which I always wanted to do also, and go where ever I want to.
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