The Meaning of Support

Trip Start Jun 28, 2013
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Flag of Philippines  , Eastern Visayas,
Sunday, February 16, 2014

Hello Everyone,

This weekend was absolutely beautiful weather and the beauty of Cangumbang and the families there was exuding effortlessly. The children were extra happy it seemed, and it was great to share so many smiles with them.

Thanks to amazing, incredibly generous donations, I have been able to expand weekend feeding programs immensely. I am now conducting Monthly Community Dinners, where an individual from any family in Cangumbang can come to the center to receive dinner for their whole family. On the other three Sundays of the month we have a children's meal and on all Saturdays a children's snack. The families in Cangumbang still have plenty of rice, thanks to Samaritan's Purse, but they are still struggling to provide "Sura," which is Waray-Waray means the food to go with the rice, protein, vegetables, etc. So I am trying to focus on providing a well-rounded meal for the children whenever I can, last weekend I made Egg Salad sandwiches and this weekend a tuna-vegetable soup with rice. For our community dinner on the last weekend in January we had spaghetti, plenty of spaghetti ;)

The older children enjoy helping to prepare the food, and the little ones of course enjoy filling their tummies. That is truly my favorite part about any feeding program, hearing the children exclaim "Busog na ako!" (meaning I am full now). The excitement on their faces when I share with them something they don't get to have everyday, the grins that come across their face as they delve in to a special treat, and the satisfaction they get from each bite.

The biggest issue that remains in the wake of the storm is the repairs to the center and the reconstruction needs of individual family homes. I am trying each day to move forward one step at a time with repairs of the roof and wall that were severely damaged. Though I am surprised by the availability of materials just 3 months Post-Haiyan, and I disappointed by the challenge of locating a suitable contractor/architect and the added challenge of locating a generator to power the essential welding machine needed.

However, despite any challenge I encounter, I am comforted daily by the enormous network of supporters that seems to grow daily. My siblings and parents reach out to me to share their support weekly, and I can never explain to them the impact it has on my week to be reminded that they are thinking of me. Each time I venture to Cangumbang on the weekend, it is never alone. One of my friends or coworkers here are always up for joining me to play with the children, teach the children, or offer me help is distributing food or organizing an activity. And of course extended family, long time family friends, and even strangers who reach out to me with words of encouragement, financial support, or just to say hello, they all mean so much to me and I am amazed by the generosity of all of you in every way.

In the past few weeks....a long time family friend shared with me that her church would like to raise funds to build a home in Cangumbang. My coworker offered to begin teaching religion classes on Saturdays. A close friend did a presentation at his old school spreading the word about the need in the Philippines. My boss's colleague handed over an astonishing donation to VFV, that I will be able to utilize for reconstruction, and purchasing educational materials not only for the community center but for every child in the village. A few long time family friends, high school classmate, my sister, my parents, and a volunteer due to work with VFV in March, donated funds to help my coworker rebuild her home. Two individuals working for an aid organization that is renting an office in our building bought toys and spent the afternoon playing with the children. Some of my close local friends helped me prepare one of the Sunday Children's feedings as well as distribute it. A VFV volunteer conducted a Hygiene class for the children and parents. A raffle began at Holy Angels Church in Sturgis, of a painting created by a parishioner to raise funds for relief. And so many other friends, family, and strangers spent time preparing fundraisers, sharing stories on social media, or just mentioning the Philippines needs in conversations with friends or at dinner tables. All of this support humbles me and keeps me going daily, it never goes unnoticed.

One of the children wrote me a Valentine's Day card, one of many, that said "Thank you Ate Elsa for telling people about us so they can help us. I know you are busy but you always make time to visit our village." Another one from a local mother said, "The typhoon took our house and we are struggling to recover, but when you visit us it helps us know that things will be ok." These messages are not only for me, but for all of you too. You are giving them hope by showing them and me that you care and you are paying attention to the struggles they are faced with.

We will continue to recover each day, and with your help rebuild the community.

Elsa 


P.S. My friend and coworker is still just 240 dollars short of funding the repairs to her home here in Tacloban. She is hardworking mother of three and is determined to bring her children back to Tacloban so she can continue to support them. But first she must create a safe environment for them to live in. Please consider donating just $10 to Kristine's Home Repairs, or spread the word about her need:  https://www.causes.com/campaigns/71602-help-kristine-ibanez-rebuild-her-familys-home

(If you'd like to donate to Kristine's Repair via Check or Paypal you can make a donation here: http://www.visayans.org/donate, just make note that the donation is for "Kristine Ibanez Home Repair")
 
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Comments

Kayla Patterson on

Great post Elsa! You inspire me daily! :)

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