retrospect of six short weeks in Dumaguete
Sitting in the
Manilla International terminal waiting for the next nine hours before
my return flight to Australia is a great opportunity to reflect on
the last six weeks here in the Philippines and what I have been able
to achieve in terms of my assignment and also in personal reward.
assignment was simple. Fly into Dumaguete in the Oriental sector of
Negros Island, The Philippines and built 37 unique websites for 37 different
Non Government Organisations who are all members of an umbrella network
called ONCAN – being the Oriental Negros Children’s Advocacy
the time I arrived in Dumaguete on a typical steamy day in June 2010
until I left in mid July I was openly presented with warmth, friendship,
inclusion, enthusiasm, commitment and most of all an incredible display
of compassion, empathy and hope that each of the member NGOs showed
to me when they sat down and told me of their organisations.
My task was, as
I said, simple. All that was required of me was to gather up the text
that would best celebrate, on a web page, these 37 charities, their
tireless work, their incredible achievements to date and to hopefully
assist them in promoting upcoming projects.
I also wanted to
assist them in developing a means to inform their many followers of
their achievements, small and large, and also the work being done
by the many other unsung volunteers who bring such change to the lives
these groups encounter. The difficulty was to extract all of this
from these quiet achievers who hold such humility about their work
and their accomplishments.
In my a day to
day I heard stories of orphans, of children who had been trafficked,
of abuse victims - mostly young children who were destined to poverty,
hardship, drug dependancy or prostitution and the many who simply
had no opportunity..
But then I heard
of the countless sucesses, of the children who were taken in, who
blossomed through love, nutrition, security, accommodation and education
to become happy vibrant adults. It was these beneficiaries who then
went on to make good of their new found opportunities and lift the
lives of others within their own families and communities.
I managed the days
of my project into 10 hour sessions of information gathering and then
web page creation. With only 200 hours allocated to the task I was
able to meet near but all of the 37 member NGOs spending around 2
to 3 hours with each.
I then spent several
hours more in front of my computer screen in my many make shift "offices"
interpreting their stories, their passion and accomplishments into
the webpages you can find on this
site which hopefully celebrate and present each of the ONCAN member
NGO's to the world.
All in all I met
and talked with over 300 wonderful people.
A tourist might
well pass by Dumaguete on their way from one tropical palm fringed
Philippino island to another but if they stopped for just long enough
and sat by the sea side boulevarde of Dumaguete town the stories of
those less fortunate would come to them, as they did to me.
All to often you hear the stories of transmigration of poor hillside
villagers to the city in search of hope and dreams, the lack of opportunity,
the darker side of life that lies in wait to swoop on them .......
it is then that you also you begin to hear of the many quietly achieving
charities that are there to pick up the pieces.
You learn of what is available in services and then learn, more importantly,
of what is not and at each of these gaps in provision stands an organisation
such as one of the 30+ ONCAN members in readiness for the mentally
ill, the abused, the disabled, the abandoned, the disadvantaged and
the poor. You meet local workers and international volunteers working
side by side and only then do the small stories come out of individual
accomplishments, the stories of children who blossom, of survivors
Each of my days
in Dumaguete were a rich reward beyond any palm fringed coastline
holiday and the project I was able to achieve will now continue to
be a legacy to all those many dedicated people I met, the Sisters,
the Priests and Brothers, the doctors, the lawyers, the social workers,
the many foreign aid volunteers from afar who have immersed themselves
into the local community and those many Pilippino volunteers who all
put their shoulders to the task of bringing sustainable solutions
to the needy, quite often where little of any additional resource
or financial support is available.
To all those that
I met on my assignment I say thank you for your friendship and your
inclusion, but most of all for your sharing with me your dreams and
hopes, your passions, your fears and your humility. My six short weeks
feel much more like a fondly spent year and I am so much the richer