Guest Post: Reflections from the Philippines
As you know if you’ve been around here for a while (or read the About page), I’m here in Botswana on a placement through USPG, on their Experience Exchange Programme. I’m not the only one on the programme – there are seven of us in total.
I mentioned a while back that I was hoping I would be able to bring you posts from guest writers and, despite my recent trials with technology, today I offer you the very first Guest Post – from a fellow-EEP, our Special Correspondent in the Philippines… Enjoy!
Being based here in the North of the Philippines the people are predominantly rice farmers. I could put many different angles or spin on this brief message, any of which one could say was true.
My time is divided mainly between environmental advocacy and youth work. Environmental degradation, mainly deforestation has been astronomical. I understand the destruction to the coral reefs to the south is just as bad. I am working on a project to try to introduce steps towards better solid waste disposal. Infrastructure here is so limited that people live with such insecurity; population explosion is also a very real factor. There are problems with heavy gin drinking, particularly in rural communities.
Poverty is not simply material, there are a number of levels – one of which is powerlessness through lack of education, knowledge or skills base. Sustaining anything close to what might be considered a healthy diet out here is very difficult! Equally animal welfare is just so distressing….
This is beginning to sound a little depressing. I could, at another level, speak of the hospitality, graciousness and enthusiasm of the people as they work together as a community and as they welcome me. Their willingness to share the little they have is such a challenge to me.
Being over a third of the way through my time I will be so excited, I suspect, to return home. I’d say I’m happy, but anything more elaborative would be going a bit far! I wouldn’t say I’m deeply content here as I definitely miss home, however I pray to God that my time and my humble inadequate efforts might be a positive influence upon this country and the people I meet and build relationships with.
I am moving around the north a little during my time, I look with definite optimism to the months ahead. I am greatly challenged in so many ways by my experiences, some in ways that I am glad are just temporary, but others that will certainly imprint deeply upon my life. People sometimes are envious and we speak in awe of things that some people have the opportunity to do or are undertaking across different spectrums of the world.
However, home is home. For all its faults England is my home, the land of my people and to a large degree all that I really know! Being overseas we should always stay thankful, it is a great opportunity to experience the diversity of being and living in a place so different. However, I feel it so important that whatever we’re doing, where ever we are, we value our own time, our own existence and place, especially with networks like Facebook – where people are so quick to project messages of the incredible experiences you could only dream of that they are having in some distant corner of the globe.
But wherever and with whomever we are spending our days, here’s a quote from Abraham Joshua Heschel, “I did not ask God for success, I asked for wonder.”
I can’t say I totally know what this quote means right at this minute but I like it.