Volunteering in Cebu City, the Philippines
When I arrived in the Philippines at the beginning of February 2017, I was experiencing a massive shift in my approach to travel and… to life.
Exploring and relaxing on the beaches of the Philippines had once got adrenaline doing somersaults through my body, but when I arrived, I felt numb. Working on the road as a solo traveller is worlds apart from just going on a two-week holiday somewhere. The Philippines, as spoilt as this sounds, was just another destination on an on-going travel itinerary. For the last 36 months I had travelled beyond my wildest dreams and my gut was indicating that, maybe, I’d simply travelled too much.
Was travel boring me now? Would I have to seek a new career?
That thought was a little melodramatic.
What I realised is that I just needed progression. I needed to be physically and mentally challenged again. With a month still left of my five-month solo adventure, I decided (with a few teary calls to my mum) that I would work through the bigger picture when I got home.
For now, I just needed to find a new direction for my time in the Philippines…
That was when I googled volunteering, and contacted the Rise Above Foundation. Read more about why I decided to volunteer here.
I had never previously considered or had the opportunity to volunteer, and the timing suddenly just felt so right. As soon as the seed was planted, my decision was made. I was going to volunteer in Cebu City, in the Philippines.
I wanted to put life into perspective, to come back down to earth, to give back. To find deep gratitude and to experience travel through a different and less glossy lens. What I experienced through volunteering did all of the above, and so much more.
Volunteering in the Philippines was one of the most, if not the most, humbling and fulfilling travel experiences that I’ve ever encountered.
The Rise Above Foundation is a charity dedicated to improving the quality of life for poor families in Cebu, Philippines. They run a number of programmes including dental missions, disaster relief, education sponsorships and they also run two care centres. Their focus is on helping children in poverty-striken areas, giving them education, food, and ultimately, hope for a brighter future.
Over 30% of the population of Cebu City live in poverty.
I went to volunteer in some of the most desperate areas.
I went to places where families couldn’t afford the basics of food, let alone education, where families had no awareness of nutrition or health, and where kids lived off of coloured sweets and sugar. Some families I met couldn’t even afford birth certificates; they didn’t even exist.
Without the right nutrition, the brain cannot function correctly. So even if the opportunity for education came along for these families, fatigue and weakness would overshadow it.
I had never seen life from this perspective before.
If there’s one thing you take from my experience volunteering in Cebu, let it be that if you are lucky enough to have access to nutritious food and the education around it… embrace it.
Embrace the opportunity you have to have good health care, and hopefully, good health itself.
Value the opportunity you have for education and for a future. Appreciate the ability you have to follow your dreams and to have your body back you up every step of the way.
You may remember I put an opportunity on social media for you to donate to a fund that I would take to make a difference in the slums.
I wanted to directly take your money and show you how incredibly far it goes here in the Philippines. Together we sponsored a ‘big feed’ in a slum within Sangsom village, which gave a nutritious meal to over 400 children and families. We also bought the children’s centre a new double stove, stainless steel cooking pots, kitchen accessories, bowls for the feedings they host, plus skipping ropes and balls for the children.
So first and foremost, thank you to anyone that donated.
I witnessed the incredible impact your money had. In the video below I captured as much of it as I could, so that you could witness it too…
Have you volunteered before?
Where did you do it? I’d love to know!
Love as always and happy adventuring,
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