Not a Goodbye, but a See You Later

The past week has been a blur of despididas and emotions, and I have unfortunately not had enough time to post as frequently as I would like here.  However,  I hope what little I was able to share with you about this magical place has opened up your eyes to a world greater than you had previously imagined, as it has mine.  In the beginning, six weeks seemed like a lifetime to be abroad, when in reality that is such little time.  I am confident and proud of the work I was able to get done here in these mere six weeks, but I realize the long term effects of my efforts are not as beneficial as I would have liked.

All in all, the kids at my project site were able to gain minimal weight during my time here, which for such a short amount of time, I’d say it was a success. We updated all of their profiles for the government, and the project is now going to be under review to see how it has been going, and if there is anything more that can be done to make it better for the future.  In addition, the Nanay lessons we taught were mostly beneficial, as the best we can do is provide them with an understanding of how to better one’s health through nutrition, which I feel we achieved.

During the tutorials I taught, I was able to experience what is was like to be a teacher, and let me tell you that was no easy task.  I planned lessons for only one hour a day, and it took equally if not more time just to plan the lessons and review them after.  From this experience, I have realized that simply the patience required to teach the struggling students is far beyond my capacity.  For me though, the light at the end of the tunnel occurred on the last day, where the students thanked me for my hard work and explained how we were the first tutors to actually attempt to teach them something that has to do with their current schoolwork.  In the past, tutors have only taught them spelling or French, and while useful, those subjects were not even taught at the school.  They each hand wrote us letters expressing their gratitude, and it was such a good feeling to feel appreciated.  I will most definitely save those letters forever.  So for this, I would like to give a huge thank you to all of the teachers out there in the world for just being teachers, you rock.

In the beginning, I was excited to come here as a visitor to the nation, one where the tongue and culture was so drastically different as my own.  And during my time here, I have definitely felt like a visitor at times, as the color of my skin often dictates the way people treat me even if I can converse and understand their language.  However, I have also experienced many moments of locality, where they look past the color of my skin, my accent, or even my hair, and treat me as an equal.  It is in these moments where I felt most included in the community, and proud to feel as I am more than just a person confided to the term “Americano.” It is these people that I will miss the most about being in the Philippines: the motorbike driver, Rex, who came to pick us up most days, the couple at the Palo Market, who helped us get the correct prices on all of the food for the feeding, the children in my home stay, who never failed to say “Goodbye, Ate!” or “Hello, Ate!” as I walked through the door each day. These are the type of people I wish to surround myself with, and will continue to do so for the rest of my life.  At dinner last night, Pamela and I were talking about such things, and how judging someone off of first impressions is the easy route.  I have experienced this first hand by submerging myself into a foreign country, where I knew I would be seen as an outsider.  But those that chose to see me as something more than an outsider, but an equal, made my transition to life here so much easier.  The moment you look at someone, you instantly start thinking about them, and stereotypes come to the forefront because you are preset in your mind to think this way.  When I come back from the Philippines, I hope I can divert these feelings and thoughts, and talk to the person about their life to gain an understanding about who they are.  While I realize snap judgements are hard to shake, and I am equally guilty of doing it all the time, I want to change, and I urge you to do the same.

As I say all of my goodbyes to the people here, something I am awful at, I like to see of it as more of a see you later than a goodbye.  To me, that leaves the opportunity for future contact, even if it is only through Facebook or email, or possibly another visit.  At risk of sounding naive, I am so lucky to have been able to experience so much love and kindness here, and feel as though I have grown so much greater as a person here than the amount that I gave back to the community.  And even though I realize I will most likely never see these people again, I will always carry them in my heart, for they are the ones that opened my eyes to the greater picture of how much more there is to life than just the small things.

Here are some pictures from my final days here…See you back in the Golden State!

Some of the kids that I had during tutorials

Some of the kids that I had during tutorials

The town of Santa Fe, the closest town to the site of our project

The town of Santa Fe, the closest town to the site of our project

Cam and I with some of the Nanays and kids on our last day

Cam and I with some of the Nanays and kids on our last day

IMG_5581 IMG_5575 IMG_5576 IMG_5579 IMG_5580 IMG_5573

Some effects of what happens when you give a kid a camera...

Some effects of what happens when you give a kid a camera…

IMG_5528 IMG_5567 IMG_5562 IMG_5519 IMG_5493 IMG_5555

My Despidida Dinner

My Despidida Dinner

My Nanay and Tatay and me

My Nanay and Tatay and me

Pinapple, Squash Curry, Fish Lumpia, Pork Menudo and BBQ Beef...SO GOOD!

Pinapple, Squash Curry, Fish Lumpia, Pork Menudo and BBQ Beef…SO GOOD!

The other Lauren, Twinkle (our Homestay sister), Pamela and I

The other Lauren, Twinkle (our Homestay sister), Pamela and I

Grace and I with some kids

Grace and I with some kids

IMG_5449 IMG_5437 IMG_5432

Our last motorbike ride...

Our last motorbike ride…

Project Excursion

This past weekend, all of the other volunteers and I went on an excursion with some of the VFV staff to a small island off of Leyte called Canigao Island.  Despite the fact we met at 5am and drove three and a half hours to get there, the journey was more than worth the experience we had when we got there.  It was just a small island, that me and a few others swam around in only one hour, with no restaurants or lodging areas, and we were able to swim in the water and just relax all day.  It was the perfect place to just relax and escape the hustle and bustle of Tacloban and our placements.  Here are some pictures of probably the most beautiful place I have been to, one where I enter and feel as if I have stepped into a postcard. IMG_5175 IMG_5179 IMG_5181 IMG_5183 IMG_5184 IMG_5194 IMG_5209 IMG_5211 IMG_5219 IMG_5223 IMG_5228 IMG_5229 IMG_5232 IMG_5239 IMG_5245 IMG_5249 IMG_5255 IMG_5259 IMG_5268 IMG_5269 IMG_5275 IMG_5277 IMG_5282

“The Meaning of Life”

This past Tuesday, I was able to visit Regional Haven Institute for girls, a place where woman go who have been raped or molested, and are currently in the middle of court cases, and aren’t allowed to leave the facility until their court is over.  Oftentimes, girls are stuck here for years and can’t do anything about it.  What started out to be a simple day delivering Nutrition Lessons to these girls, ended up being so much more…

When we arrived at the center, the girls were very shy and barely spoke to Laurel (the other volunteer who was teaching with me) or I.   We started off, as planned, preparing our snacks for them to eat, as we were showing them an example of a few healthy snack options, since their choices of chips and banana cues didn’t really make the cut.  After, we moved on to the bulk of our lesson, where we discussed the different types of food and food groups, and what benefits and effects they have in one’s body.  During this part, we had a game where the girls got Velcro food items and had to pin them to the board in the correct food group, they really enjoyed this one.

Once we were finished with our lesson, things got really interesting, but in a good way!  We ate lunch in the room with all the girls, and Alissa, another volunteer that invited us to come over, invited one of the girls to come and eat with us and share some of her stories.  Not the stories of her past, but stories she had been writing.  You see, she is 18, only gets schooling once a week and still has the ability to write.  Now saying she could write would be an understatement, she brought Laurel and I to tears with her words.  Her poetic essays about life were so incredibly honest and brave that I had never read anything like them before.  My personal favorite of hers was “What is the meaning of Life?” It seriously made me evaluate my life choices and education, even though this girl, who was younger than me, could barely even remember life outside of the gates in this government institution.  Here is one of my favorite quotes from her writing:

“I would rather be out enjoying the simple things than pondering them”

Coming from someone who had never really lived according to my standards, was detailing something that I thought didn’t exist.  It blew my mind to say the least, and caused me to think deeper about what simple things she was talking about, seeing as her simple things and my simple things were completely different.  Then I realized, they don’t have to be.  It’s the small smiles and actions you make that really make the difference.  And instead of standing back, she willingly showed me her most vulnerable pieces of writing for me to enjoy.  Another one of her pieces was about her giving away her baby when she was 16, because she knew she couldn’t take care of him.  She has pictures and knows his birthday, but in her heart she knows she will never see him again.  Reading her work, I didn’t even recognize the teardrops falling on the page were mine because I was so bounded by the words on the page.  After countless more pieces and pictures and tissues later, Laurel and I were able to slap a smile on to play with the kids for a while, because we knew how much we felt for these girls who were in so much pain.

The kids there are such a breath of fresh air though, to the dark reason for the existence of the place.  Just playing with them for five minutes made us forget how emotionally drained we were.  The pure joy and innocence in these kid’s eyes brought us back us to realize that despite all the pain that these women have been through, it’s the simple things that are pushing them forward.  They are able to write and express their feelings through different outlets, and take comfort in the happiness that the volunteers and the children bring everyday.

All of the girls at Regional Haven are my heroes for their strength and bravery, and I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to teach them and be where I am today.

I can honestly say that this was one of the best and hardest days of my life, and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. IMG_4963 IMG_5008 IMG_5004 IMG_4991 IMG_4974 IMG_4960 IMG_5038 IMG_5028 IMG_5022

The girl that moved me to tears

The girl that moved me to tears

IMG_5041 IMG_5047 IMG_5054 IMG_5059

The Value of Experience

Having been at my project site for over 4 weeks now, the kids and Nanays are finally feeling more comfortable around me and the other volunteers, and are sharing more information with us.  As an outsider coming into their community and lives, I realize we can be hard to trust.   We talked about this a lot in GPP, how trying to instill our knowledge on the people can seem forced and unwanted, but having been in placement for so long, I now realize what it is they want to know.  They are finally beginning to trust us and our motives for being there, and communicate more openly with us now, which is amazing!

Since our first Nutrition Lesson, I’ve also seem them looking more at the nutrition posters in the center that we put up, and they have asked us questions about the food we are cooking as well.  The other day, one of the Nanays even approached us to tell us that we didn’t need to buy them as much oil for the meals anymore, because they finally realized that a little bit creates the same flavor as a lot of it.  HALLELUJAH! This was by far one of the best days I’ve had at the project so far.  On top of that, the Nanays seemed particularly chatty with us this day, and shared with us some background on one particular family that is in the feeding program.

This family has four sponsor kids, three siblings, and one cousin.  Out of the entire community, this family is the worse off, and to make it worse, the mother died a while ago, so it is just the father and uncle taking care of them.  As they are the heads of the households, they work often and don’t really have the time or money to create meals for their kids.  The Nanays explained to us that we should be portioning the kids off more food, because they only get fed dinner at home, and sometimes not even that, so half of their daily intake of food is from this feeding program.  This was heart breaking, as the kids in this particular family are some of the most outgoing and friendliest in the group.  For being in such an unfortunate situation, they are always happy to hold my hand as I walk them to school, and always seem to have smiles on their faces.  These kids and their stories are the reason that I love to do what I do, because I realize my time here and help is very short-lived, but it’s the day to day happiness that us volunteers’ create in these child’s lives that makes it worthwhile.  Here is an update to the child’s weights over the past 8 weeks, some of the kids have not attended all of the weigh ins though, so they only have a few dates.

In GPP we talked a lot about the purpose of volunteering and why it is useful, because often times people do it for the wrong reasons.  Having been here for so long, I see that it is naïve to think that you can create change in behavior in such a short time, but daily improvements that are made can be seen as stepping stones into creating a brighter future for so many of these kids. Every day I leave satisfied with my contribution to these kid’s lives, and am proud to be a volunteer that is making some (although small) difference in the world.

Teaching the Nanay Lesson a few weeks ago PC: Clif Threadgold

Teaching the Nanay Lesson a few weeks ago PC: Clif Threadgold

_CTP1973

While Americans worry about being tan, Filipinos worry about being tan

While Americans worry about being tan, Filipinos worry about being tan

If only my nanay made this for me...

If only my nanay made this for me…

One of the many problems is not knowing what is healthy, ironically this is definitely not

One of the many problems is not knowing what is healthy, ironically this is definitely not

In the grocery store, the Nutrition Institute put in these labels to help show what types of foods are healthy

In the grocery store, the Nutrition Institute put in these labels to help show what types of foods are healthy

Feeding the lovely Marian

Feeding the lovely Marian

Lizzie and Grace serving the children

Lizzie and Grace serving the children

The traditional Chicken Adobo, but more nutritious with the help of extra veggies

The traditional Chicken Adobo, but more nutritious with the help of extra veggies

Putting the pieces together

This past week, we were able to take a day off of placement to go and venture around Tacloban looking at some of the other project sites that VFV sponsors.   Our first stop was the saddest of them all, and it’s called the dumpsite project.  The name is pretty self explanatory as we arrived at the site of where all of the surrounding area’s trash is dumped onto the land, here are a few pics: IMG_4820 IMG_4822 IMG_4825 IMG_4827

An adult walking amongst the piles of trash searching for something of value

An adult walking amongst the piles of trash searching for something of value

IMG_4831In the past, the dumpsite has been filled with many kids scrounging around the trash for a living to help bring their family money and useful items.  VFV has come in to help provide the kids with a new life outside of living in the dump, by providing sponsors that help provide the children with the incentive to stop working at the dumpsite and continue their education.  To learn more about this project, go here: http://www.visayans.org/community-center/dumpsite-project

The next stop during our day was to a small town near San Rouge, where we visited the household of one of the sponsor children.  What a sponsored kid means exactly, is VFV evaluates families in the local area to find those who cannot support their children with the proper sustenance and clothing required to be able to attend school, and then they find sponsors willing to donate money to help the kids.   The child we saw had been sponsored for eight years by the same person, and has been succeeding very well in school during the entire time.

We continued on with our daily tour to San Rouge Elementary School, where we were able to see how VFV has impacted this school system.  Over the past ten years, VFV has sent volunteers to help teach here, however they were all pretty short term and no one is there now.  They do, however, have a large sponsor that was able to donate to get a small computer center available for the kids to use, which was very generous.  Here are a few pics of the school:

The outside of the school

The outside of the school

The computer lab

The computer lab

A typical classroom there

A typical classroom there

Moving along, our next stop was in a very small, rural village on the outer edge of Tacloban.  Here, we visited the site of a soon to be community center that was being funded by fundraising from a past volunteer.  She managed to raise $30,000 USD through her church for the site, and the project is in the final steps.  The center will be used for a nutrition project once it is complete, and will also serve as a place for the community to camp out when the town floods.  Flooding is very common in low lying areas like this, so having the center built high above the ground ensures it’s survival through future typhoon seasons.  Here are some pics from the site and surrounding area:

One site of the new center under construction

One site of the new center under construction

A few of the girls VFV sponsors

A few of the girls VFV sponsors

IMG_4863 IMG_4858

The homes surrounding the center

The homes surrounding the center

We finished the day with lunch on a beautiful beach, and then visited the MacArthur Landing Memorial, where General MacArthur famously returned to help remove the Japanese forces from the island.  If we were on a family vacation, I guarantee my Dad would have spent a while here…

IMG_4870 IMG_4868

All in all, it was a very interesting day to learn about all the other things this non-profit does.  I also enjoyed it because I got to see where my tuition was going to, in the flesh.  During my orientation, I learned that while some of my tuition to volunteer in the program goes towards my homestay and staff fees, a majority of it goes to funding the programs that VFV puts on, mainly the feeding programs.   At first I was a little put off by it, because as we learned in GPP, many NGOs are deficient in funds and seek out ways to make the most money as possible, and I was afraid VFV would turn out this way.  But, from what I have been able to deduce thus far from my experience here, is that they live off barely enough money to support their families, and each staff member genuinely cares about the volunteers that come through and always give the projects and us their number one priority.  And for this reason, I am greatful for each and every one of them for the effort they are making to change their communities, because change truly starts when initiative is taken by those truly passionate about the cause.

Weekend in Puerto Princesa and Sabang, Palawan

Discounting the dozens, literally dozens, of mosquito bites I’ve accumulated in the past three days, I’d say this weekend was definitely one for the books.   Here are some pictures of the highlights:

View of Ulugan Bay on the way to Sabang

View of Ulugan Bay on the way to Sabang

IMG_4489 IMG_4559 IMG_4549

Beach in Sabang

Beach in Sabang

IMG_4514 IMG_4581

On the boat ride to the cave

On the boat ride to the cave

IMG_4642

IMG_4609

IMG_4617

IMG_4619

Beginning of the Mangrove Tour

Beginning of the Mangrove Tour

IMG_4722

Lemongrass fish with vegetable curry, so good!

Lemongrass fish with vegetable curry, so good!

Cliff Jumping in between beaches

Cliff Jumping in between beaches

IMG_4760

IMG_4781

Sunset on our last night...

Sunset on our last night…

San Juan Nutrition Project: Update #3

So yesterday we had our first Nutrition education class with the Nanays, and members of the community.  It turned out to be a huge success, and we had about 20 Nanays, 3 nurses, 1 Nutrition scholar, and the barangay captain in attendance.  During the presentation, Cam and I talked about the importance of eating a variety of different foods instead of just a few of the same all the time, do to the distribution of nutrients.  We have noticed here in the Philippines that their diet is primarily rice, with some meat and some fruit or veggies in it.  When we tried to explain to them that eating too much rice is bad for their health because they aren’t eating enough of the other food groups, they just laughed at us.  However, we moved right along with our presentation, and they were all very attentive during the duration, and looked genuinely interested in what we had to say. 

It was also very nice having the Nutrition and Health Scholars available to help translate our lesson as well, because most of the nanays knew very minimal English.  In addition to the material we provided, the scholars also gave some knowledge to the nanays about the region, and different local fruits and vegetables that had nutritious elements that we weren’t aware of.  For example, out in the rural areas, this magic plant called malunggay can grow, which has a multitude of different vitamins and minerals in it.  Here are some facts about it:

Moringa-diagram

http://www.treesforlife.org/our-work/our-initiatives/moringa

We knew that showing them a different way to eat was going to be a bit of a change, and who knows if they will actually change their eating habits over time.  However, I think that these types of lessons are still beneficial because planting even just this seed of new knowledge into their head could eventually spur some thoughts on eating healthier for the sake of their own health, and ore importantly their kids.

Sorry for the brevity, but I’m about to catch a flight to Puerto Princesa in Palawan for the weekend.  Happy fourth of July from the Philippines, you know I’ll be rocking the red, white and blue all day!

 

“Asante Sana!” I mean “Salamat!”

Over my first few weeks in Leyte, I have noticed myself using the “Asante Sana” instead of thank you quite often. At first I was extremely confused as to why this word was coming to my mind, but then I looked back through my journal that I wrote while I was in Africa, and realized it was Swahili for thank you. I was amazed that I had subconsciously started drawing connections with these two experiences that have made such a large impact on my life.

Now that I am a third of the way into my program, (which was fitting considering I just finished my first pack of three face wipes) I am feeling a lot more connected with the area and culture here. I am much more aware of the culture I am living in, and am more accepting of it as well. Here, as well as in Tanzania, I have learned the value of family, because everyone lives near or around their family, and are always in each other’s lives and business. All of us volunteers are treated as if we are part of the family, and we are called “Ate” (older girl) and “Kuya” (older boy) as a form of respect from the younger members of our family. Often, we attend events as part of the family, like birthday parties, picnics, and parades. We are always served the same dinner as the family members are, although we often don’t eat with them because of the different meal times and project times. Here is a meal that I had earlier, it’s Chicken Adobo, Squash Curry, Vegetable Lumpia, rice and mango:

IMG_2749

As you can tell, there often aren’t a lot of vegetables in our food, which is killing me a bit inside. What I would give for a spinach salad right now is insane, I can’t even, ok I’m done now. On the plus side, I’ve fallen in love with the veggie curry-it is to die for! More of my personal favorite dishes are the chicken pancit, lemon fish, and mango shakes.

Another aspect of the Filipino culture I have learned it what they call “Filipino Time.” Similar to “Berkeley Time,” which is the ten-minute grace period we have to get to class, Filipino time refers to the grace period after the actual time you will be somewhere. For example, if you tell someone lets meet at 9am to go shopping, they most likely won’t arrive until 9:15/20. With the type A personality that I have, this has been a bit of an adjustment getting use to, as I am usually pretty prompt with meeting times. On the plus side though, Filipinos are extremely laid back and relaxed, which has been such a nice break since leaving Berkeley, where everyone is constantly doing something.

Having fun and hanging out with friends and family is definitely a huge part of the culture here. Videoke, basically karaoke, is extremely popular here, and it is common to here people singing from their houses at all hours of the day. I’ve done it at my Tatays birthday party, at my friends house one night, and at two other volunteer’s despedida (explained in a minute). It’s truly very fun and everyone gets super into it and dances around.

IMG_2696

Now a “despedida” translates to a farewell party in English, and most of the volunteers will have despedidas hosted by their family on the night before they leave. I’ve been to a few of these so far, and they are extremely fun! During the past few, we have sung videoke, had huge feasts prepared by the family, gone out on the town, or played card games. We even got a cake for one of them too, and it supposedly had “buttercream frosting,” which was exciting, but it ended up being just straight butter frosting, and was disgusting to say the least. It also looked like something that was eatenHarry Potter, but I’m probably just having withdrawals.

IMG_2711

I will end with the concept of honestly, and a little bit of good luck. Everybody I have met here has been so nice and friendly, always saying hi as I walk by, or offering me rides everywhere. I truly feel the community here is very genuine and wants the best for everyone. For example, my friend Cam left his IPhone on a jeepeny in the morning, so naturally we both freaked out and counted it as a lost cause. However, in the afternoon, I happened to spot the exact jeepney we were in 5 hours later, and we went up to the driver to see if they had found a phone in it. The driver looks at us, and without hesitating whips Cam’s Iphone out of the console and into his hands, unscathed and in perfect condition. Something I can’t even imagine happening in the United States. Trust and honestly are practiced daily around here, and I know I am going to miss this coming back to the states.

One big difference between this trip and my Tanzania trip is length: two weeks, compared with six weeks. I feel like while I had a good experience, to truly learn about another culture, the longer you are immersed in it, the better. Therefore, in the seemingly short four weeks I have left, I cannot wait to become closer to the culture here and learn more about what makes Filipinos such amazing people.

And lastly, I will end with some adorable pictures of my favorite kiddos around (thanks to Erica for a few pics!):

IMG_2682 1004575_10200639951455616_662735983_n 1044658_10200639652328138_161622850_n

And here is a pic of the arch entry into our neighborhood:

IMG_2690

San Juan Nutrition Project: Update #2

This week we were able to get measurements for most of our kids, so we can track their progress to see if they are improving.  To do this, we measure their height and weight every two weeks at the same time, using the same materials.  We try to be as accurate as possible, and measure down the tenth of the measurement, but when different volunteers are doing it, error can be made.

With that said, I am disappointed to say that the results have not been what we had hoped, with some of the children staying the same, or decreasing in weight over the past two weeks.  This can be accounted to many aspects outside of our control, but it’s still difficult to hear that the project you are working on isn’t reaching it’s full potential.  These results have provided me with even more incentive to search for different outlets to spread the word about good nutrition to the community, throughany way possible.  My partner and I are also going to try to attempt to talk to the families more about what their eating and food habits are like outside of the feeding program, because that is 2/3 of their diet for the day.  One of my goals is to get improvement from all of the kids before I leave, and I hope I will also be able to educate the nanays more about how to cook correctly for their kids.

Just in the time that I’ve been here, I have seen a definite improvement of the kids that come in each day and go to school after.  It is also important to note that this project has only been running for about 6 months, and change doesn’t happen overnight, so patience is key.

Here are some images of the weight in and height check:

IMG_2632

IMG_2631

IMG_2623

San Juan Nutrition Project: Update #1

When I first started out working for this nutrition project, I honestly didn’t really have any idea of what I was getting myself into.  I knew I would be working on a feeding project and helping to prepare the meals, but that was really most of the direction I got before I left.

When I got here, I was told I would be buying and preparing the meals for the children, and then serving them during lunchtime with the help of the other nanays.  After a few days of this, I realized a pattern of inconsistency as some of the children wouldn’t come to receive their free food, and weren’t going to school either.  This struck me very hard, as I would get easily frustrated when the kids wouldn’t show up, because it seemed like the parents didn’t care that their children were still starving and we were providing free food.  On top of that, many of the parents didn’t strongly push their kids to attend school, even when it is a 5 minute walk from their house.  My partner and I have attempted to come up with some types of solutions to help solve these problems, even though we were told it wasn’t our job.  We would vent a little about it after each day, because we wouldn’t take this as a definite answer.

While it was true that we couldn’t really do anything about forcing them to go to school, we decided that walking them to school after their snack time and lunch time helped a bit.  So now they come and play with us during break, and eat their lunch with us, and after they are done we are their personal escorts back to class.

As for the attendance every day at lunch, we are trying a few tactics.  First, we just implemented a sticker attendance sheet, where every time a kid finishes a meal, they get to put a sticker next to their name.  If you have never seen a kid get a sticker, let me tell you, they LOVE stickers, literally like it’s Christmas or something.  Next, we moved the time of the feeding to be at lunch instead of breakfast, which is good for many reasons.  First, after I eat breakfast I get to go back to sleep for an hour, because we don’t have to leave until 8:30!!  Second, all of the kids that are in school have lunch at 11:30, and the kids that are too young eat at 11, so the times are spread out.  So far it has been pretty successful, and we are happy to finally have a lot less absences.

On top of this, Cam and I still haven’t felt completely satisfied with our work, so we have decided to try to enact more measures to make the program more self-sustainable.  Because right now we are merely feeding the kids, and not really helping them and their families succeed when they are out of the program.  THerefore, we have talked to the Barangay Captain about implementing a community garden that we can use for the project, as well as a fresh water fishery.  He loved the program ideas, and so now we are just waiting to get the price back from the engineers to see if it is manageable with our budget.  We are also planning a Nutrition Education class series for the nanays of the community that will start next week, and the Captain said he would love to attend that as well.  We are keeping ourselves very busy here to say the least, but it’s totally worth it to see these kids gain weight and get more comfortabe around you.  Here are some pictures of the kids we serve: Image

ImageIMG_2643 IMG_2654