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.
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.