Unfortunately, I have to report that I got a decent nights sleep tonight (more than 5 hours.) However, it was sadly due to the fact that I slept in when I was supposed to meet my team at 8am.
Yet God works in mysterious ways and I ended up sharing a laugh filled road trip with my friend Jenny, who graciously offered to help me by driving me to our school project (Lorenzo Daa in the furthest part of Tacloban) despite her fear of driving. Jenny is also a Tacloban survivor whose generosity and kind spirit extends beyond helping her Filipino people.
When I arrived at the school (earlier than everyone else because Jenny was simply amazing in her timing and ability to simultaneously switch gears and get directions on her cell), I was blessed to get a early view of the young children we were to spend time with.
Details of our activities is best shown through pics when I return, but to summarize, we played games and taught the kids English.
The focus of this entry though should be placed more on the children themselves rather than our activities.
Despite my nervousness of teaching a bunch of kids without being able to speak their language, I could see that they were just as much nervous at having a foreign stranger who looked like them, but who couldn’t communicate in the same way.
Yet, I once again remind you all that kindness is the same in every language. Our games together eventually opened up their hearts and it was then that the true spirit of Tacloban emerged; through the gentle innocence of a grade 2 class of children who were content with what they have.
Similarly to our feeding mission, I had swarms of kids who immediately reached to hold my hand and stay near me. They followed me and my partner, Stef, around like we were royalty as we sought out places to play games and escape the hot sun.
It was difficult to imagine that these kids survived the most horrible disaster to fall upon their city. In their eyes, there was no dread for the future. Rather, you can see a curiosity of the world that was not hindered by the fear of the past, nor the uncertainty of tomorrow. What does this mean for the future of Tacloban? Simply put, these were children who epitomized the strength of the Filipino people: resilient and faithful.
The amount of trust these kids gave was amazing. They yelled out “Kuya Kris! Catch me!” as they jumped from benches knowing that they were safe while I was with them. I could feel in my hand how tightly they held on and I could sense the worry at the thought of letting go. Even during lunch they made sure to sit as close as me as possible, maintaining physical contact like sitting on my lap or even just having their head rested on my shoulder. It was as if I would disappear the second they lost contact with me. Such faith was resounding in my opinion because it emphasized the frailty and dependence of these kids for protection and guidance. How much more amazing is their life story when you consider that they survived Typhoon Yolanda?
We also were blessed by attending a high school to share our advice to future students like us.
My favorite memory of this was asking them to show us a game Filipinos play. They basically ran a game using their tsinellas (slippers) similar to baseball. In the 3rd world, kids will endeavor to use what they have to find joy and merriment. I sometimes fail to achieve that goal with TV and video game console.
At the end of the day, many volunteers were touched by the tears of kids who were sad to see them go. I for one didn’t see anyone cry for me, though this is what makes the day for rewarding than ever. There isn’t any doubt that I made a positive impact, but I am proud of my students for seeing this day as not a cause for sadness, but rather a motivation to push on with their lives. While I hate the fact that these kids will most likely have to grow up faster than any first world kid would have to be, I am faithful that they will be able to take care of themselves.
Lorenzo Daa Primary school in Tacloban has an issue with accessible water. The kids were thirsty but refused to go home for water because they didn’t want to waste any time while we were there. Especially since we were out in the sun, you could tell they were very thirsty. This revelation has made me decide to start a new project to provide this school with access to drinking water.
The kids have to walk 30min everyday just to get to school. Forgetting a water bottle seriously hinders their studies.
I hope that following this trip, my experiences will compel you all to help me succeed in this new mission.
“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 18: 1-3