This morning I spent my time catching up with the editing of my pictures, I’m shooting at least 500 a day so far so trying to stay on top of them all is very time consuming indeed! The images I take will be used to promote the work the charity does here, and I’ve also said all of the other volunteers here can use them as a record of their work, so it’s difficult to delete any! In the afternoon we drove into the wilderness where VfV run a nutrition and teaching project, and the children there put on a show for us consisting of traditional dance and also a few more modern moves, including a dance to Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas’. The Philippines go crazy for Christmas, one of the traditions I’ve heard is that after they head to bed after the day’s event, they wake again around midnight, give the children a gift and then eat spaghetti!! There’s still loads of decorations up, with the festivities starting in early September (I thought the British went crazy for it starting in November!). The New Year celebrations also last for all of January, so it seems like it’s celebration time constantly here! The French Canadians led some English workshops at the centre later in the evening, with around 30 children descending on the place, so I couldn’t stick around and catch up with my internet needs, instead I had my first proper beer with Stefan on the basketball court outside as the sun set, it definitely helped with my first full night’s sleep in a week… Stefan sponsors a child here for $300 a year – it pays for her to go to school, her school equipment, and a medical and health check once a year, something I’m definitely considering when I return to the UK. We also visited the site of the American General Douglas MacArthur’s landing when they came to liberate the Philippines from the Japanese in March 1945, and the day he landed is a national holiday here.
Today I headed out with the French Canadian group on their city tour, it was the same as ours yesterday but the sun was shining so everything looked much different and improved the look of my pictures so was well worth repeating. We also headed out on a tour of the projects I’ll be covering including a teaching and school building scheme, a young offenders rehabilitation programme and a nutrition project up in the hills. It was incredible just driving around in a Jeepney, to see the devastation the typhoon caused and the efforts of the people trying to return it to it’s former state. The saddest thing I saw was the destroyed evacuation centre, constructed especially for extreme weather but even that was completely ruined, and many people lost their lives hoping to find shelter there. Every evening our Nanay (mother) cooks us a huge meal, they eat five meals a day here and I thought I would lose some weight but I think I’ll end up bigger than when I arrived!
Arrived in Tacloban on the 3rd January 2015 after a 24 hour journey, I flew from Manchester to head to the Philippines to work as a volunteer media intern, with the brief of producing photographs and a film to be used by the charity Volunteer For The Visayans to promote the work they do around the relief effort following Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda). We’ve had an orientation around the city, it’s absolutely devastated still one year on from the typhoon, and with little funding coming from central government they are relying on donations and volunteers coming into the area to try and improve the situation.
I’m staying with a lovely family, you have to call the elders Nanay and Tatay (mother and father) and they’ve been so welcoming and generous, even though they have next to nothing. They have a dog called Dice so that’s helping with missing my own dog, and they took me to the local mall for dinner on my first evening, before heading to bed for a good rest!
The next morning Winston and JR from the charity gave me my induction session, and a tour around the city. Everyone uses the Jeepneys to travel around, a journey costs about 20p and will take you anywhere in the city. I’ve also met up with a group of French Canadian Police trainees who are here to volunteer too, so I’m heading out with them tomorrow for their tour to photograph and film their experience, hoping for a sunnier day!