Floriane Perichon - General Care Projects in Philippines
Every summer, since three years ago, I embark for unknown lands to help make the everyday lives of underprivileged children a little brighter. This year, I choose a General Care Project in the Philippines, which is the opposite side of the globe for me! I would like to share with you how unforgettable those two weeks were, and tell you about the beauty of the Philippines and the kindness of its inhabitants.
Arriving in the Philippines
After thirty long hours of travelling (I did say it was the other side of the globe!), you can expect to be in a bit of a zombie-like state. However, that doesn’t bother Filipinos a single bit, as they welcome you into their community as soon as you arrive. Aquiles, the Projects Abroad staff member who greeted me at the airport, proceeded to recount the entire history of the Philippines and Cebu City while we were in the car!
As soon as I arrived at my host family, I also found myself playing volleyball with the kids of Dakit and the local female team. I cannot play volleyball to save my life, even more so when I only had three hours of sleep! But the local team accepted me nonetheless, and encouraged and supported me. After only a few hours there, I already felt part of the family.
For two weeks, I would play volleyball and badminton with my host family’s children, support the Dakit Proper team against other barangay teams, relax in the evening with the people from Dakit, share stories and riddles with them, listen to the local gossip, and give advice to the girls my age. It felt like I had known them for years even though I only stayed two weeks.
If you travel to the Philippines, you will see how Filipinos are infinitely welcoming, kind, and grateful. Sometimes, people would stop me in the streets just to tell me I looked beautiful, or when they knew I was a volunteer, thank me for my involvement. It is truly humbling, and encourages you to give your all in your project.
My Care Placement in Bogo City
Every morning, I would help Mam Shiela in the Bogo Central 3 School. The class welcomed about 25 children, aged between 4 and 5 years old. We would teach them (in Cebuano!) how to count, write, name the different colours, and the alphabet. I was surprised when I discovered that Cebuano had a lot of words in common with Spanish. This makes a lot of sense though since it is a former Spanish colony.
Bogo Central 3 also works towards raising awareness on the importance of exercising, eating healthily, washing hands, and brushing teeth. Therefore, before each class, we would do a little bit of dancing (we had them dance to Jennifer Lopez and Taylor Swift!) and Friday would be P.E day. July was also Nutrition Awareness Month, so the school organised an event where the classes competed against one another in dancing, slogan making, and many more activities promoting healthy eating.
In the afternoon, I helped out in the Dakit Day Care Centre, conveniently just opposite my host family’s house. Day care centres welcome much younger children, many of whom come from difficult social backgrounds. Unfortunately, they also receive less funding from the government, resulting in fewer resources and less engaging teachers to children who need it the most. I therefore concentrated more on one-on-one teaching, helping the children individually with their task, be it letter/number tracing or counting. We would also try to make the breaks more entertaining by bringing bubbles and balloons for the children to play with.
What I love about children is that, once the initial wariness wears off, they want to share everything with you. They don’t care if you can’t understand a word of what they’re saying. It made leaving them difficult (I cried), but it also made every moment spent with them more precious… the smile on their face when you tell them “Maayong!” (very good!) once they finish their work or their look of curiosity on their faces as they played with my dangling earrings… those memories will always stay with me.
Fun, unique, and quirky experiences in the Philippines
The Philippines offers amazing landscapes. I don’t know if there’s a meteorological explanation for it but the clouds transform every sunset into a full-on light show and every natural scene into a painting.
While I was there, I was able to fulfil one of my dreams: snorkelling with whale sharks. In Oslob, south of Cebu City, you have the incredible opportunity of swimming next to those 9 metre-long creatures. I know they’re harmless, but when you dive in and see one for the first time… gosh, it’s big! It was truly a magical experience. And just after that, we went for a swim at the Tumalog falls, and though the water was freezing, the beauty of it was worth it.
I could go on and on about my time in the Philippines, but that would constitute a whole novel! Plus, I wouldn’t want to give it all away for you. Because, surely, after all I’ve recounted, you are flying there, no?
This volunteer story may include references to working in or with orphanages. Find out more about Projects Abroad's current approach to volunteering in orphanages and our focus on community-based care for children.