Last week, members of Kaya staff along with some volunteers in the Philippines joined with the children from a few of our projects in a day of celebration. We were not only celebrating Christmas (which is certainly a huge cause for celebration in the Philippines!) but also the achievements of the children over the past year, of which there have been many.
The day began with visits to several of our community projects to see the work that has been done and is on-going. The visit that hit home the hardest for the international guests, was to the dumpsite in Tacloban City, where children and families still live and work. Seeing children as young as five clambering over heaps of rubbish, which includes everything from decomposing food to medical waste, to salvage recyclables to sell, certainly makes you realise how lucky you are to have a roof over your head and food on the table. Although this side of things can be hard to handle, it was great to pay a visit to the centre which has been established nearby with the goal of helping the children of the dumpsite achieve an education and move away from their life there.
After the visits to the project sites, the sponsored children, who are put through school by volunteers and sponsors from overseas, put on a wonderful show for their guests, which included plenty of dancing – in true Filipino spirit!
Of course, no day of celebration in the Philippines would be complete without a veritable feast for everyone to enjoy! The mainstay of any Filipino feast, Lechon (a whole roasted pig) took pride of place among the other treats and delicacies on the table and everyone enjoyed a hearty meal as the guests and children got to know each other.
Plenty of games and more dancing followed, with everyone getting involved, even running around enthusiastically outside in the midday heat for a particularly enjoyable game titled “longest line” in which teams are challenged with creating the longest line out of only items found on their person. Hilarity ensued as children and adults alike scrambled to de-lace their shoes, tie their clothes together and ultimately make themselves as tall as possible to elongate their line.
Overall, a fantastic day was had by all. While there was plenty of jollity and fun to be had, the morning spent visiting some of the community projects reminded everyone of the importance of the work the projects are implementing. While this year has been a fantastic one in terms of achievement and volunteer impact, there is still a huge need for the work to continue and for more volunteers to continue the legacy that has been left in 2012.