The trip was phenomenal! We met amazing people, visited some unique places and the impact it made on us was unbelievable.
So what made you want to do a project like this and why the Philippines?
I wanted to follow the example that was set by my father, plain and simple. He gave so much of his time and love to people all around the world, I just wanted to do something to remember him and show him that he left an impression on me. My father had a great love for the Philippine people. He had visited this country at least 5 times offering dentistry services or as part of the Rotary International organization.
What was it exactly that was done?
The main project was piping fresh, clean water from a mountain spring down to a water tank and then out to faucets placed throughout the village. Before this, the villagers were having to hike up for hours to reach clean water so they would typically just drink from the nearby creek which often caused them to become sick. A washroom and shower facility was also constructed.
We helped out with two other smaller projects.
- On a similar project that was completed in 2012 in Subic Bay, we replaced some mechanical equipment.
- On another project that was completed in 2008 by the Rotary, we improved some mechanical on for a water fountain that provides clean water for more than 5000 high school kids in East Manila.
Did we do any of the actual construction work in the Philippines?
As much as we would have liked to help with the construction, all of the work was completed for us by the local people. We simply offered the funds to hire people in the community to do the work. We hope that adding a tiny bit to their community economy helped and that the workers too, felt the impact that they were creating for those around them.
What was it like visiting these sites?
Amazing! These villages are filled with such happy people and excited children. It was great to see firsthand what a difference something as simple as clean water can make for people.
To be honest, though, what the Rotary Clubs had brought with them was what was truly inspiring to me. When we arrived in Mindoro, I anticipated going out to the village, visiting the people and seeing what work had been done. To my surprise, the Rotary brought trees to plant, school books, food, medicine, and vitamins. They made the project into so much more. I cannot express how full I was with emotion for the generosity, kindness and love that I saw the Rotary provide to the people around them.
Other lasting Impressions?
Let me tell you about one of the inspiring people I met in the Philippines, Fed. All his life Fed has worked hard and currently manages several companies. He is now trying to retire but no one is allowing him to because he is much too valuable. One of the companies that he has managed for 15 years is a small bag manufacturing company. He rents a good size little warehouse in the heart of Manila and, with about 20 employees, they make bags for organizations like Walmart.
Fed obtains contracts for the company, deducts rent and electricity costs and then gives the rest of the money to the workers. Fed hasn't taken a profit from this company in 15 years! He simply does it to help the people and offers an income to people that may have struggled otherwise.
Another person that made an impact on me was Dong Ybud. He runs a printing company, printing books, flyers, etc. One of his big contracts is printing and putting together paper bags. He prints off the bags, cuts the strings and then sends them to the people that live in the area behind his place of work for assembly.
A year or so ago, Dong decided he wanted to help the people that lived behind his shop as it was run down and there was no work for many of the people that lived there. He bought tables and supplies and offered the opportunity to those living there to put the bags together and to make an income. The difference that this has made in this little portion of his community has been huge. Women come in during the day to put the bags together and earn money for food and clothing. Now even the husbands come in during the evening instead of going to the bar and wasting money. Instead they now help to provide more for their families. The smiles that I saw on the faces of these people were huge!
Aside from visiting your projects, what else did you see?
The traffic! In the Metro Manila area there are about 24 million people in an area that is comparable to the size of the city of Edmonton. There aren't a lot of traffic lights in the city. When you come up to a busy street, you just make your way into the intersection and people just stop, let you go and everyone just carries on. People honk constantly but it is not out of aggression, it is simply letting others know that you are coming.
The food. The Philippines have some amazing fresh fruit and tasty delicacies. Lots of tasty fish, salty breakfast buns and frog!
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