Sunday, March 9, 2014

My Compassion Journey Continues in the Philippines (no surprises there!!)

In June 2013 I made a life-altering decision. I decided to volunteer at an orphanage in the Philippines, called The Ruel Foundation.

This decision had many consequences and "what ifs" and "what the hecks?" One of these was what would happen to the many children I sponsored with Compassion International. I wasn't worried, because I knew God had it under control.

In mid-November I made my decision "Facebook official" and invited people to help me by sponsoring my kids. Over the next two months I witnessed miracle after miracle, as 27 of my 29 kids were sponsored by my amazing family and friends.

I was really sad at the prospect of my seven-year association with Compassion ending. I've been a sponsor, advocate, traveller and general maniac. Before I left for the Philippines, as a bit of a longshot I guess, I did some research and found out that there were two Compassion Projects in the city I would be working.

I knew that Saturday in the Philippines was Compassion Project activity day, so on my third day in the country, armed only with the name of the neighbourhood and some rough directions I set out to find this mystery Compassion Project and partner church.

I traipsed around Barangay Lalud for an hour in the rain, looking for anything that looked remotely church-y or had some kid activity. No success. I was just about to go back to Ruel when I had a brainwave: why not try the other side of the main road? ( I was convinced my directions were the right hand side).

The second street I tried, I stumbled across a church and I could see kids wearing yellow shirts. I looked for a Compassion sign but couldn't see one, so I decided to try my luck. I entered the church grounds and the kids in the nearest class turned around and saw me coming. Their teacher came out to meet me and I asked if they were a Compassion Project. He answered yes and I was ecstatic: I WAS HOME!!

The Project is PH268 and currently has 118 children registered. I met the Project Director (who is also the Pastor's daughter) and she took me on a tour. I sat in on some classes, helped serve the lunches and introduced them to Australian football.

I have joined the church and have now been back to the Project six weeks in a row. While I can't do much due to the language barrier, for now I am happy being the bringer of songs, balls, and UNO cards, and help serve the lunches. We have discussed me possibly teaching English or maybe running a guitar class. I am excited about the future possibilities and am so thankful to God that he plonked me right near a Compassion Project and I can stay connected with Compassion despite having moved on to other work. I think of it as amazing, but not necessarily surprising.

I have to say that after spending the past few Saturdays helping at the Compassion Project, my perspective has been forever altered. In the past, on all my visits, I have breezed in, been the centre of attention for a couple of hours, had fun with the kids and nicked off. I have now spent a few hours sitting in on classes and have been frustrated at some of the behaviour I've seen with the kids. Pinching, poking, incessant talking, plain disrespect. I have been reminded: these kids are from economically poor, often dysfunctional homes, they are often not well-adjusted. They need extra servings of patience, grace and love. This is why my admiration and respect for the Project workers, teachers and volunteers has gone up even more: they give up their time and their lives to form relationships and show these kids some love and give them a fun safe place to be, all in the name of Jesus. Compassion is not a quick-fix instant solution to the mess of poverty. It's a hard slog, and a grind. It's a long-term strategy that involves building relationships and loving people when you may not get loved in return. It's high-risk, but high-reward. I'm honoured to be a part of it.

Here are some pictures - Australian football, soccer, UNO and checking each others teeth.

1 comment:

  1. I'm loving hearing about your experiences...both at Ruel and at the Compassion center. Thanks for sharing with us.