Today we started our first mission, which was to prepare arroz caldo (Filipino version of congee) to over 2100 people in Barangay Caiibaan.
I think that this aspect of our journey is best described through pictures and I will endeavor to post some as they become available. But a quick summary was as follows:
– we were bombarded by children between the ages of 4-9. I was popular when they found out I could carry them and didn’t mind giving piggy back rides and swinging them around by their arms.
– My record for number of kids I can carry at once is 8. (10 if you count the 2 kids who latched themselves to my legs.)
– We prepped the food in 3-4 large pots about 1/2 of my height.
– Tacloban’s vice mayor skipped an important meeting to join us and help serve his people.
– As part of our training, we were instructed to serve the children first because food often gives rise to pushing crowds and kids may be trampled. I am proud to report that this was unnecessary to enforce. Our Filipino countrymen and women were gracious in making sure the kids were taken care of first. It was such a great thing to see.
– The arroz caldo was hot and some people did not have a bowl to store food. We provided cups and some kids couldn’t carry their food so our volunteers helped bring it to their houses. Some got a chance to visit the whole families and learn about their experiences from Yolanda.
A kind of touching moment happened when one of our volunteers watched a kid take her arroz caldo in a cup. She accidentally dropped it and then started to cry because she thought that she wouldn’t be able to have anymore. Our volunteer picked her up and brought her to the line where we took care of her and made sure she brought some back to her home okay.
– I burned myself cooking in the stove. When we were prepping, one of the kids noticed how I was rushing around to get the lunch ready and tried to wipe my sweat off my face with a small napkin in his pocket.
– I spoke with some adults. I love Filipino sarcasm, especially when I brought one of them food to their home and they laughingly said, “step into my office.” it was inspiring to see how optimistic and happy everyone was despite what has happened to them. As a matter of fact, everyone was thankful for the temporary shelters (the standard would be considered unthinkable for many of us who are privileged) because they lost everything to Yolanda.
– a sad moment happened when a single lolo came at the end for some food but was too late because it was already finished. It was my first painful lesson of my trip that you cannot do everything under our own power. This was also a guiding reflection for me on the grace of God and the need to put everything in His hands.
After our mission, we visited the project leader of the United Nations Development Project who taught us lessons on resilience and faith when dealing with disasters like Tacloban. She also gave us pointers on how to gets jobs at the UN. (I will make this a separate article.)
“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”