Magandang Umaga, po (or, if your reading this at the exact time I post it, the proper greeting would be magandang gabi, po). It has been a while since I have updated this blog last. Things in Metro-Manila and elsewhere since I arrived back here from Pook, Laguna, has been very interesting. When I arrived in Fairview, I stayed for 1 week before traveling with Food for the Hungry staff and other interns to the province of Albay, in the region of Bicol, which is south of Manila (but still on the main, northernmost island). I stayed in Bicol for 1 week, and came back to Metro-Manila 1 week ago from yesterday (Sunday).
There is a very famous, beautiful volcano in Albay called the Mayan Volcano. It is an active volcano, and in 2006, it erupted. Most of the debris and ash stayed inside the crater or on the side of the mountain. But in 2007, a very powerful typhoon hit the area, and caused massive mudslides and scattered the debris from the volcano. Thousands of people were killed and/or are still missing, and many people lost their homes.
When this happened, Food for the Hungry responded with emergency relief aid, and introduced savings groups into many of the communities. For the 1 week that we were in Bicol, I spent much of my time listening to the other FHI interns interviewing recipients of this aid. I also got a chance to interview some members of the savings groups. On the last day we were there (Saturday) we visited two communities, and distributed de-worming medicine to the children in the community.
Here is a picture of the beautiful Mayan Volcano. A few weeks before we arrived, the volcano started smoking again, so part of what you see in this picture is smoke (although some is clouds too).
When I arrived in Metro-Manila last Sunday, the staff of FHI had a very busy week, and were unable to show me what I could do for my research in Fairview (which is where I am living for the rest of the summer).
The beginning of last week was very frustrating for me because I had absolutely nothing to do, and I am living with a family away from FHI staff members (so I was unable to speak to them regarding my research). And so, with nothing to do, and with the suggestion of my professor, I decided to contact my two classmates, Nick and Lauren, who are also in the Philippines for their own internship. They are working with a Christian NGO called CCT (Center for Community Transformation). CCT is a Microfinance Institution (MFI), so they provide loans, organize savings groups, etc…
On this past Wednesday, I met Nick and Lauren, and stayed with them until Saturday morning. We had a great time together, and I was able to learn a lot of very helpful and interesting information about CCT. I was also able to sit in and listen to 2 focus groups that Nick conducted, and I was able to observe two “Fellowship Groups” – weekly savings group meetings with bible study, where Lauren passed out a questionnaire.
This week, my research will resume, and tomorrow, I will be able to meet with beneficiaries of FHI, and people who used to be involved in FHI-sponsored savings groups. This will be good for me, because I will begin to be able to compare and contrast the experiences that people in Fairview had to those that residents had in Pook.
For this week and for the rest of my internship (which is only 4 weeks), please pray for two things:
1. Please pray that I would constantly and consistently humble myself, and have a humble spirit as I interact with my supervisor, FHI staff, the other interns who are here with FHI, the Filipino people, and with my work. Even though I am a “community development” major, I know absolutely nothing when it comes to actual experience. That is what this internship is for, and I am here to be a student and to learn.
2. Please pray that I would continue to have direction in my research, and that I would be able to accomplish what I need to by the end of the summer. Before I leave, I will be writing a massive paper and will be giving a presentation to the FHI staff. Please pray that this week I will be able to begin my interviews again, and that when plans do change, and when things don’t work out the way I want them to, that I will be flexible and be willing to adapt. Last week was great, and I am very thankful for the opportunity that I had to learn about CCT and what they do in the Philippines. Who knows? Maybe if I could go back there if it turns out I will not have much to do.
Ingat Po Kayo (Take care),
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