Tuesday, May 20, 2014

THe SiDe YoU DoN'T uSuaLLY See

Department of Health, DepEd, CRS, JPI, CSWO, DSWD, Samaritan's Purse, YWAM, Volunteers for Visayas, UNICEF, World Vision, Caritas, INTERSOS, LDS Humanitarian, barangay captains and officials, woman's shelter staff. Meetings, meetings, meetings. I knew when I came out here with Arturo that I would be doing a lot of the prep work, especially when it came to finding partners. That was bour goal in coming out 3 weeks before everyone else. To find people that we could work with not just this summer, but in the future as well. 

Doing that kind of work was something I'd always been interested in and while I was working with PIG/Revive I was able to spend a lot of time talking to potential volunteers but it wasn't to often that I got to talk to a potential partner. So having the opportunity to shadow Arturo for those few weeks, and then being able to take the things I learned to continue what we started has been an incredible experience. With so many NGO's working here right now Tacloban has been the best place to get that kind of experience. 

That being said my HELP experience abroad has been very different than most. The rest of our crisis team arrived just last Thursday and since then they have been able to spend every work day up in San Juanico working on housing projects, CR building, supply distribution, painting and a whole range of different projects. Although I was able to make it up to San Juanico on Friday, the rest of my days have been spent in Palo, Tanauan and downtown in meetings or shopping for necessary supplies for upcoming projects. Some of the meetings have been making initial contacts, but a lot of them have been follow up meetings where we have been able to solidify details for upcoming projects. 

Is sitting in meetings majority of the day the most exciting thing in the world? Not hardly, but it's  been extemeely insightful and inspiring to work with so many many different groups, all working their hardest to accomplish a common goal. It's been an amazing opportunity. It may be a different kind of work, but I really have loved it. Does that mean I don't like doing the hands on projects, or have zero intentions of picking up another hammer this summer? Not at all. The few times I've been able to go out to Armi's and pull out the tools have honestly been some of my favorite days. I will spend more time in the field but for now these meetings are what need to be happening. Plus it's been a blast being able to take some of the volunteers in to these meetings and seeing their faces light up with excitement when they see all the potential things we can do. 

Today Chris and I were able to go meet with Lili, a lady we've been working for over the last week to put together an encampment, without the overnight portion, for a group of 300 adolescents in the Tacloban area that didn't quite get the psychosocial help they needed after the the typhoon hit. I'll save all the details of what those days will be like until I can just write about the event, but our team is so excited to help give these kids an outlet while helping them learn how to deal with these emotions. 

A little later we were able to go down to Palo for a few hours. In order to make sure that the relief efforts on Leyte and Samar are not being duplicated by all the NGO's that are here UNICEF has organized meetings where the NGO's can come together and talk about everyone is doing. The have them in a number of different categories, today's being education. They covered everything from the number of classrooms destroyed and plans to rebuild to how Yolanda effected drop out rates in all the areas within Leyte and Samar. The numbers were completely mind blowing and have us some good ideas on ways we can help. I can't wait to see what kind of work we can do. 

All in all my experience has been a lot different than I thought, but I feel like it has been exactly what I need.  I have got to meet with some incredible people. I have got to spend time in places that some of these volunteers probably won't see. I have wound up in unexpected situations that will forever bring a smile to my face and I wouldn't have it any other way. Being in this side of things has taught me so much about myself and my ability to accomplish things I'd never thought I'd be doing. It may not be the typical HELP experience, but I love it!

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