Saturday, May 3, 2008

Just a few short weeks away!

My volunteer placement confirmation forthe Philippines has arrived! I am told that I will be living with a host family (Filipino) in Tacloban City (on Leyte Island) in the Philippines (about a 1hr flight from Manila). The following map sheds a little light on the exact location of Tacloban City in relation to Manila in the Philippines:
Information on my placement I`ve been provided with thus far:
" You will be working directly with and assisting social workers in the activities for the street children (non-formal education classes, monitoring and follow-up, interview with the child's family, etc). There will be scheduled saturation where the volunteer and the social worker go out on the streets at night until early morning to gather street kids and bring them to the center. You will help establish a program for the kids at the center that will uplift their will being, motivate and boost their self-esteem and the like that will keep them busy and not think about going back to the street and sniff glue."
"Currently, the Department of Social Welfare is constructing a facility to house and teach the street children. Most children who have settled on the streets have families of their own but turn to the streets in search of food. Glue sniffing, known as "rugby" in Tacloban, is a common addiction amongst the street children who turn to this drug to suppress their hunger pains. Volunteers can assist the Social Welfare Office in helping to give the simple things these children lack in life, such as compassion, trust, love, and food."



Home Stay

"Volunteers are placed with ordinary Filipino families so they can be immersed in the culture and witness first hand everyday life of a traditional local family. Host families are carefully selected to host international volunteers. Filipinos are incredibly hospitable and go out of their way to make their guests feel at home. The host families will provide the volunteers with two Filipino meals a day: breakfast and dinner. Volunteer will have their own private room, with a secured lock on the door. Most Filipino homes only have one C.R. (bathroom) for the entire family so the volunteer will have to share this with the family. "

"The problem with street children in Tacloban City was noticed in 1987, with a few children seen begging along the busy streets. Since then, that number has grown to about 200 and these children are not only begging, but also sniffing"rugby,"stealing from pedestrians, and young girls allowing themselves to be molested and sexually abused by men in the evenings.
The City Social Welfare and Development Office and local police have tried to rescue and return these children to their families, but the children continue to return in search of money, food, and glue to diminish their hunger pains.
The street children have become an eyesore to the visitors and residents in the commercial district. They hang around in fast food establishments, parking areas, bus terminals, supermarkets, and sidewalks. Their activities in the street include begging for money, selling plastic bags or assorted spices, watch or wash cars to name a few.
These children become victims of circumstances not of their own choice. At their early age, they become"instant adults"burdened by responsibilities of helping their parents earn a family income. Such situations expose them to unwholesome adult activities such as rugby sniffing, pick pocketing, stealing, and even prostitution. They likewise become victims of physical injuries from adults and worst is that they become victims of sexual exploitation.
A facility, funded by the government is being constructed in Tacloban to remove these children from the streets and provide them with a place to live. Besides the shelter, there is no money in the budget to provide the basic necessities for these children.
Volunteer for the Visayans, is committed to helping raise the funds to feed, clothe, and supply these kids with their basic needs such as beds to sleep on, school uniforms, transportation costs etc. These children need your help."

**************************************************************

And so in a mere four week`s time on June 1st (from today), I will be boarding a plane and making my way toward Malaysia where I will both lounge around and explore for 7 days. I have still not planned my Malaysia itinerary, but I hope to have the details worked out by the end of the week. I need a game plan! On June 8th, I will board yet another plane from Kuala Lumpur and make my way to Manila where I will spend the night in a hotel near the airport. Finally, the next day, I will find myself on yet another plane heading to Tacloban City (where a coordinator from my organization will meet me!) I still have quite a few last minute things that I need to organize before I leave Coogee. These pressing items are as follows:

1).- Plan and book my return trip to Australia.

2). - Get my Australian work visa stamped into my passport (I forgot to to it at the airport upon my arrival into the country)

3). - Stock up on donations for the Filipono children (toilettries, clothing, food, vitamins, books, etc)

4). - Apply to difer my student loan payments since I am officially a student again.

5). - Update resume so that it is ready for Western Australia (for next paid work stint in August)

6). - Hair highlighted & cut

1 comment:

Gerry said...

Gee, I admire your passion and your drive to help others, specially the streetchildren. Taclobanons can never thank enough guys like you for your help and concern. I hope you enjoy your mission in Tacloban and find psychic returns for your noble cause.

I am from Tacloban, a past president of the Rotary Club of San Juanico. Visit my websites which could give you an idea of what the city and suburbs look like:

www.callezaragosa.com
http://gerryruiz.wordpress.com

Whenever you want to chill over some beer or coffee plus cool music, come visit us at calle Z cafe. :)