Back in the USA
Welp, I made it. I’m back home, now packing to move for grad school. It feels weird to be back… I wish I were still in Dumaguete! I miss the kids and the girls…and a had a dream about Gordo, the dog, last night! I want to start planning a trip back already :)
If you have any questions about my trip, or want to see more specific pictures, message me!
This morning, I boarded a boat for Cebu :( I can’t believe my time at Rainbow is over for now. I was so sad to say goodbye to the girls!
When I arrived in Cebu (and after finding and checking into my hotel and such), I went in search of the butterfly garden! No one seemed to know quite where it was, but we found it eventually! The garden is not only just butterflies, but also a whole Filippino cultural experience. The guide showed me the different types of homes (now I know why there are two types of houses :) ), how to make the hanging rice sacks, and different types of plants used here. She also showed me a “shy plant.” I want to get one of those; it’s a plant, but when you touch it, it reacts to your touch and curls in on itself! I also got to shoot an old Filippino blow dart.
Then, I went to the Taoist Temple, in Beverly Hills Cebu. Yes, you read that right. The temple (really, temples, because there are several of them) are amazing. They are beautiful, and tranquil, and just awesome to see.
Then, I went up to the top of the mountains around the city, to a look out area. There’s a large circle cut out of the jungle, with a semi-circle made of a concrete building with bars and restaurants. The view was spectacular, and I’m really glad I got to go up there!
Then, in case you were wondering, I topped off my birthday with room service and cartoons :) Cause I’m an adult like that.
Welp, I’ve begun packing :( I’m taking on the challenge of fitting almost three months worth of souvenirs and clothes into the same luggage I came in. Go go gadget packing skills!!
This has been a busy week! The kids are coming down with foot, hand, and mouth disease, which is virtually non-existent in Western countries but isn’t uncommon here. It’s mostly an issue with children, and adults don’t often get it, although it’s pretty highly contagious. So, of course, the adults are getting it… So far, two yayas and our field director are down with it! :( So it’s been a bit crazy around here.
I’ve made my plans to leave in the next couple of weeks… I can’t believe it’s almost time to leave. To put it out there, I want to stay! I’m going to miss the girls and the kids here… A LOT!! I foresee another trip here in the semi-near future :)
Moving an ex-Agape girl and her family!
Today I helped Alyn, an ex-agape girl, and her family move. I wanted to write about it because I feel like I got a really good look at how the average family lives here, and I think it’s important to share that.
Alyn and her husband have two little boys, one 3 and one 15 months. Before, they lived down a very rough un-paved road, and shared a piece of land with several other families (including the family that owns the land); and paid 950php (almost $25) for rent — plus all utilities, and there was no running water. The “house” was about 4 1/2 feet by 9 feet or so, and the CR was in a little alcove on the side of the home. There was no kitchen, and it was in a lowland area, so it floods often, and has a lot of mosquitoes and other bugs. Their house was at the front of the property, so all the other families had to walk through their area to get to the other houses. All together, I would estimate that the total space they had to themselves was perhaps a 20 by 20 foot square…
We moved them to a house on the South side of Dumaguete. There is a property off the highway that is completely gated. No one lives in the big house right now, but the owner needed someone to take care of the property, so Alyn and her family took the opportunity! Their new house is easily 3x the size of their old one, and had electricity and running water. The property is really nice, and has all sorts of fruit trees already there, and Alyn will be able to grow a lot of food for them there! With the whole property gated, the boys can run around and play, and it’s still on the main road, so Alyn’s husband can still get to work easily. Their rent there is 150php. So, this is a pretty great place for them to live! It’s still a huge eye-opener, though, because the CR is in the middle of the house, and even though there is running water on the property, it’s not into the house… there is a “kitchen,” but you still have to cook over a fire outside the structure, and there’s no cover for the rain. Refrigerators aren’t common for most families here (electricity is SUPER expensive), so there’s no way to keep food fresh or cold, which definitely contributes to the average diet of rice and veggies.
To give you some perspective, the minimum wage here is technically 37php/hour, which is less than a dollar. Most businesses don’t follow that though — there is a HUGE amount of worker exploitation here — and workers may get that much a day, or not get paid at all… So, 950php is a huge amount (and really, that’s a lot to pay for rent here in general…)
It was a blessing to see Alyn and her family to a much better home, and I think it will really suit their needs. It was also definitely an eye opener for me though — growing up would be very different living in one room that barely fit everyone in it to sleep.