Beso people, my name is Marina ten Heggeler and I am 17 years old. I just came back from the Philippines where I have volunteered in an orphanage in Manila for 3 weeks. I had a wonderful time there and I want to share my experiences with you to inspire you guys. I hope you will enjoy reading my story;
On 30th June I started my trip to the Philippines. I flew from Amsterdam and had a stopover in Taiwan. When I landed in Manila I was immediately hit by the tremendous heatch (± 35).. When I walked out of the AirPort a woman from WAP was already waiting for me (for almost 3 hours – typical Philippines: always caring for you) who took me to one of the WAP leaders where I would spend the first couple of days. We took a Jeepney. For the people who don’t know what a Jeepney is; its like a small bus, open, with all kinds of colors and a really hard horn! I have done a lot of things in Asia but never sat in a Jeepney before, so that was pretty cool! When we where driving to the house of the WAP leader (Juliette Kwee) where I would stay, we saw typical Asian ‘culture chock’ stuff, like on the highway; there where cars, busses, motorbikes and Jeepneys, but also people on scooters, bicycles and just people walking on the streets… Also a other funny thing was that in my country we can (only) go with 2 people on a motorbike/scooter, but in the Philippines it doesn’t seem to matter how many people are sitting on it so its pretty normal to go with your whole family on 1 motorbike, so mommy, daddy, and the kids all cozy on 1 bike. It’s funny to watch that. When I finally came in the house I was so exhausted from my long journey that I fell asleep immediately. The first 3 days I was free and didn’t have to work in the orphanage yet. The first day another girl from the Netherlands arrived who would be doing the same project as me, so that was really nice! Here name is Jessica Zhoe. After we had dinner we went to the city and drank a typical Philippines drink to become more ‘one of the Filipinos’. The next day we started with a curses about the culture of the Philippines and how we needed to deal with the kids from the orphanage. An example: how we should say ‘hi’ to young people; ‘Beso’ and to older people; ‘Mano po’. Also we learned that you can not point at people or a thing but that you need to do it with an open hand. The next day the adventure really began and we went to the orphanage (House of Refuge). I was also sleeping in the orphanage so the people who worked there first showed my room. It was a really nice room! It had 2 beds, decorations on the walls but the most important; there was an AIRCO!! After I saw my room we went to the kids and said hi. They were a little shy like every other kid but that would change so fast when we started talking to each other! When we came down from the kids there was an other big group from an other organization who would volunteer there also everyday. Luckily the big group got split so that we weren’t with too many people everyday with the kids. I was the only who also slept in the orphanage! After a small PowerPoint presentation and some explanation we got our schedule. It was already a bit late so we agreed to start the projects the next day. Everybody left and I was there with the kids. It was nice because they could slowly get used to me. I also ate with them everyday, and everyday I was sitting on a different table to get to know them all bit by bit. There were 33 kids in this orphanage. I ‘worked’/played everyday with the kids because I was living there. In the weekends I was free so I traveled in Manila with Jessica and experienced a lot of cool stuff! Jessica and I also went to an other really small island (Bohol) for a couple of days when we were free from work! But further to the weekends, I will tell you how a regular day at the orphanage was;
The group was split in 3 small groups; we had the kindergarten group, the primary school group and the highschool group. The primaryschool and the highschool kids left early in de morning for school. They started at 6am. Around 5am I would wake up from all the running, chaotic, yelling children who needed to hurry up for school. I didn’t help them in the morning because I was a really good attention-breaker haha. Around 8am I had breakfast and around 9am the other volunteers would come. The big group didn’t come everyday because they lived very far from the orphanage but Jessica and I were there everyday! Usually we already prepared activities the night before. I brought a lot of toys and writing stuff from the Netherlands but that wasn’t enough for the 3 weeks that I was working there, so sometimes we needed to go to the mall to buy some activity stuff (the mall was 10 minutes with the Jeepney from the orphanage). So at 9am we started our activity with the first group; the smaller ones. We tried to do everyday something else but some activities we repeated because the kids loved it like making loombands. We did also other things like drawing, painting, making bracelets, water balloon games etc. the kids really loved it! When we were finished we tutored them English and maths (only if also the other group volunteers was there, otherwise there were too many to tutor them). My group consisted of 3 kids (around 6yeard old). The thing they really enjoyed was drawing so I teached them by drawing: with math I would draw first 7 flowers and than 3 more and than they needed to find out how many there where now. That kind of stuff. With English I would draw different kinds of things like a star, hart or an elephant and than they would draw it also. After they were finished I would ask them what it was and we would spell it together! It was real fun! If they did it well the could pick a sticker! After the tutoring they had lunch and we also ate with them. Around 12 pm they went to school and the primary school group came home. The kids (and we!) took a nap till 3 because it was to warm to do anything. At 3 pm we started our activities with the older ones, more or less the same as we did with the smaller ones but they liked it also a lot. We also played all kinds of sports with them like basketball and football. They were pretty good so I really needed to do my best if I wanted to win haha! Around 5pm the kids from the kindergarden and highschool also came home and we played all together till 6pm. At 6pm the other volunteers left and I had dinner with the kids. The food was always good! After dinner I tutored 2 kids from highschool English and math. I am pretty good in math but I have to admit that it was really hard but after some help from an information book most of the times it went well. After the tutoring most of the kids were already sleeping so I also went to my bed. So, this is what an average day would look like J!!
The last 2 days I experienced a real typhoon! Coming from the Netherlands, I am pretty much used to rain and storms but this was really incredible. We couldn’t go outside because pieces of trees may fly around.. One tree hit the orphanage house! We had a black-out thus without electricity we used old-fashioned candles! Luckily nobody got hurt since we all stayed inside. In a way, the typhoon made it a very special day because we were all together in the dark in candlelight, close to each other, playing games. This became a very special day and memory for me. The next day was my final day and time to say farewell- they threw a ‘farewell party’ for me with a lot of dancing, singing and great western food; spaghetti!!! All in all, a great adventure with lovely kids and staff; I hope to see them one day again!
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me! (you can use facebook or email)