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Giving Something Back

08 Jul

We arrived at a piece of wasteland, a building site but today transformed, not so much in its aesthetics but through care into a community meeting place. A bright haven, where once a week smiles come easily and some much-needed respite is welcomed.

The Dasmariñas chapter of Kiwanis International are a great bunch of people, passionate about helping and really enthusiastic for the families and also to talk about what they do.  It was a wonderful experience both in terms of being involved and seeing how things work at the front end of charities.  It was also a gentle reminder that I could do more and an encouragement to do more and be involved.

Everything was set up and soon enough I was introduced and invited to give out food to the kids who were either impressed by my height, my can’t-cope-with-the-heat look or possibly bemused by my Casper the Friendly Ghost whiteness which was certainly more pronounced than I am used to.

It’s more than just food and drink that are offered by the Kiwanis team though, solar lamps and hair cuts for example are also things that are provided throughout the three-month programme.  it is a relief for the parents as well, there was a great spirit and everybody was smiling. It puts one’s faith back into humanity and was a relief from all the tragedy that we read and hear about every day.

Charity is always worth a contribution and seeing videos is all well and good but being there in person means so much more, its valuable as an experience and to really understand the lives that are touched by the generosity of the donators and volunteers.  Not only that but to also to use the opportunity to thank the team members for what they were doing.  It is not often I am lost for words but that day, all I could keep repeating was how great everything was and what a wonderful job they do.

it never feels more real than being sat amidst the chaotic chatter of children, perched on a small chair, notebook in hand. It was great to just observe and see the smiles and also the curious glances directed towards me.  It was a family atmosphere where everybody was sharing in the happiness, it was community and everybody was better for it.

What shocked me more than anything is the maths of the situation. From a Westerner’s point of view the relative cheapness of cost to support these kids is an obscenely little amount.  For my second visit I offered to contribute and ended up buying water and juice for everybody, put through a currency converter, the amount I spent was a little over two hours of minimum wage work (or at least looking busy) here in the UK.

Since then, money is even more in perspective for me in the everyday, it’s hard not too feel a bit guilty about what I spend my money on, to the point where I spend little on anything apart from essentials and sometimes the odd meal out.  Even books have taken a back seat since I returned.

Front sitting L-R: Pres. Arnold Gardon, PLG Joe Camañag, LGE Pol Pagente, PP Efren Ignacio, VP Marlon Villanueva. Standing L-R: PP Sam Sy, Kwn Gerold Pagente, PP Cet Ambion, PD Randy Oliva, PP Lito Aguilar,  and other volunteers from Dasmariñas City.

A huge thanks to these guys for making me feel welcome and for giving me the gift of being able to see the good work that is done, totally independent of any government support I might add.

And also a huge thanks to Crissy of course for her wonderful photos and all of her support.

As all of us head back to our lives outside of this bubble, the stark contrast of our differences certainly puts into perspective what we have and how lives can be poles apart but support can and does make a difference. I’m not one to talk of life changing experiences because they don’t happen often but this one really affected me on a personal level and was infinitely rewarding.  I will certainly go back and join in again and am looking forward tp making a positive contribution.  Anybody who is interested in finding out more about Kiwanis can find a link to their website on my previous post.

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28 Comments

Posted by on 08/07/2017 in My Writings, The Philippines

 

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28 responses to “Giving Something Back

  1. shadowoperator

    08/07/2017 at 12:31

    Wonderful pictures, Ste J. A person at a charity event who is a donor always has to be so careful not to be caught in the usual newspaper pose of handing a check or contribution to a deserving person, who is caught in the photo like a deer in the headlights. It always looks so embarrassing for the receiver, and so self-glorified for the donor. But I would say with your photos and captions you have avoided that pitfall admirably and have instead merely taken pictures of people having a good time together, which is what life should be about anyway. Kudos on your new ambitions. (And Hi! to Chrissy.)

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    • Ste J

      08/07/2017 at 12:43

      I did debate whether to mention that I personally donated to part of the proceedings but it was worth making the comparison with cost so left it in as it was part of my experience. I could never be one for such a dramatic gesture with a newspaper, any sort of attention would take away from the actual good work of many people. Seeing the impact the event had is always the best reward for anything given and one I look forward to experiencing again, many times over.

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  2. Mika

    08/07/2017 at 13:45

    Aww. this is so kind of you, Ste.

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    • Ste J

      08/07/2017 at 23:37

      I loved being able to get involved and next time I will be looking to help a lot more.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  3. cricketmuse

    08/07/2017 at 14:18

    It is a lifestyle changer when we see how others live. Thanks for your genuine article.

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    • Ste J

      08/07/2017 at 23:42

      I probably didn’t do justice to the whole experience, it i strange how in the moment everything is so much more visceral than the writer can hope to capture later. I won’t stop trying though and am looking forward to going back to try again.

      Liked by 1 person

       
      • cricketmuse

        09/07/2017 at 03:52

        The Casper comment is appropriately funny.

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        • Ste J

          09/07/2017 at 10:58

          I make it a rule to be amusing at least once a year, I was starting to panic as I hadn’t managed it for the first half of the year but the balance is restored and now you can sit back and appreciate bad puns for the rest of the year.

          Liked by 1 person

           
  4. Clare Pooley

    09/07/2017 at 01:44

    What a wonderful experience! It is amazing what a small amount of our money can buy in the Far East or Africa. Great photos!

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    • Ste J

      09/07/2017 at 10:36

      The disproportionate spread of wealth over the world is really shocking but it means a little really does go a long way. I never quite believed it before, when watching those charity adverts but it really is amazing how far it goes.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  5. renxkyoko

    09/07/2017 at 06:23

    How did you get involved with Kiwanis ? It does take so little to help the kids. With just $100, one can feed a hundred kids. By the way, Ste J ( although I’m not sure if this is still true ), the minimum daily wage of a manual laborer over there is PhP 450. That’s $ 10 a day. It’s heartbreaking. Good thing food is relatively cheap. * mentally counting the cost * Ugh, not enough.

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    • Ste J

      09/07/2017 at 10:44

      My girlfriend’s uncle who is part of the Dasmariñas and when he heard I had a blog I was invited to join the event and perhaps write about it, I jumped at the chance. The disparity in earnings is a truly shocking one, here at bare minimum the average worker is looking at £60 $77) a day. How I miss the food…!

      Liked by 1 person

       
      • renxkyoko

        09/07/2017 at 16:25

        I’m glad you got to see real life in the Philippines.

        When I was there, my cousin and I even felt like hillbillies from the USA when we went shopping . 3 of the biggest shopping malls in the world are in the Philippines. We couldn’t believe the Philippines is a Thirld World country. But then we were not shown the ” depressed ” areas of Manila. However, we didn’t go to Manila to see that……….. I saw the extent of poverty on YouTube. ( YouTube again , ha ha )

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        • Ste J

          10/07/2017 at 10:06

          I always aimed to see some of the real side of The Philippines but had no real plan to do it, just off the cuff as I usually plan things. I am glad I did see it though, it really should be a required thing for all tourists to see the worst as well as the best of a country to give perspective and learn something from it.

          Liked by 1 person

           
  6. Liz

    09/07/2017 at 11:12

    What a moving testament to the power of community. I can see why this was such a powerful and transformative experience for you, and am grateful to have been able to share in it, albeit vicariously. This is a great reminder, if anyone needed it, that we can always do more to help, and that what seems to us to be ‘a little’ can go an exponentially long way.

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    • Ste J

      10/07/2017 at 09:57

      A little over here can be a day’s wages over there, it certainly puts first world problems in perspective.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  7. Andrea Stephenson

    09/07/2017 at 23:04

    I’m not surprised the experience touched you and made you reflect when you got home, it must have been amazing to be a part of it in such a personal way.

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    • Ste J

      10/07/2017 at 09:52

      It really was and I have been in contact with some of the team who are happy to have me back anytime which is always great.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  8. Liz Dexter

    10/07/2017 at 15:08

    This was lovely and moving to read. It does make you think, too, doesn’t it.

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    • Ste J

      12/07/2017 at 21:37

      It is all to easy to get lost in the stresses of life but we really are lucky. I wish I had the words to really write about it, to briefly quote The Smashing Pumpkins line from Geek USA ‘Words can’t define what I feel inside’.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  9. Nicholas Conley

    10/07/2017 at 15:22

    Amazing post. These sort of experiences stay with you forever, that’s for sure; there’s nothing like being there in person.

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    • Ste J

      12/07/2017 at 21:47

      Thanks mate, it was all arranged so quickly and I had no idea what to expect but I am glad I could be there and see those kids smile, those memories will always cheer me as the insanity of the world seemingly steamrollers us all into the dirt.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  10. Sarah

    11/07/2017 at 13:43

    What an incredible experience! It’s humbling, not to mention distinctly uncomfortable to realise how much we take for granted in the West, something we can’t be reminded of often enough!

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    • Ste J

      12/07/2017 at 21:41

      It really is strange, I went for a curry the other night to catch up with friends and I found myself mentally calculating how much it could have gotten for those kids. It’s becoming quite a consuming habit which is good but also disconcerting at the same time. Still, it is a good thing to be reminded of and it has curtailed my shopping experiences, I only buy essentials these days and that doesn’t mean books as I have many too many already.

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  11. Theanne aka magnoliamoonpie

    12/07/2017 at 18:43

    That answer my question about your travels…how wonderful that you had the opportunity to experience this 🙂

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    • Ste J

      12/07/2017 at 20:33

      It really was special and made a huge impact on the way I do things in life. Can’t wait to do it again!

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  12. Aquileana

    17/07/2017 at 14:55

    Kudos and proud of you Ste…. Thank you for making such a valuable contribution ❤ ⭐

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    • Ste J

      19/07/2017 at 12:02

      I shall be doing more too, it’s the sort of thing that you can’t just do once, when you see the impact it has on the lives of others.

      Liked by 1 person

       

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