Volunteer Work In Manila

In the last post, I wrote about traveling in the back of a jeepney with my classmates. You might have wondered where we went taken. In fact, the jeepneys dropped us off at a community center near one of the villages at the outskirts of Manila. We spent the morning working with a non-profit group called Gawad Kalinga to paint houses and play with children.

Immediately upon walking into the community center, we were greeted by several wide-eyed children. They grabbed our hands and immediately tried to lead us to their playground.

I was impressed by their energy and aggressiveness. I feel like in America, kids are coddled and sheltered by their parents. As a result, many of them grow up afraid of the world and unwilling to take risks. The kids at the community center were basically living on the streets… and as a result had developed incredible street smarts. Most importantly, they weren’t afraid to ask for things aggressively. Piggy back rides. Shoulder tosses. Spinning in a circle. You name it, they asked for it.

You may have noticed that I’m wearing a Vindictus t-shirt in the above photo. Nexon, you’re welcome. I await your checks.

More after the jump.

As I mentioned earlier, our mission was to paint houses and entertain a bunch of kids. I was assigned to one of the houses at the end of a narrow alley. The owner wanted a pink house so I did my best to cover his house in pink. However, the paint was unnecessarily watery and as a result, I had to paint multiple layers.

Minnie told the homeowner that I was a great professional artist (not true…) and as a result, the guy gave me free reign to draw whatever the heck I wanted on his wall. My original plan was to draw red lanterns and yellow fireflies. However, I ran into two problems. First, I did not have a small paint brush. Second, I did not have any primary colors.

With such meager supplies, I wasn’t able to draw the fancy mural I had created in my mind. However, I left a small signature in the lower right corner in the form of blue and yellow flowers. I’m sure it will wear off in a few months.

Painting flowers with a big thick brush proved difficult. At one point, a kid handed me his toothbrush and I used it to detail the flowers. After half an hour, one of the locals finally figured out from my pantomime that I wanted a thin brush. He asked around and found one for me along with a slab of wood to use as a palette. There are only so many colors you can create with pink, cyan, and yellow, but I tried my best.

For lunch, we ate a traditional Filipino meal called chicken adobo. We ate with our hands, a concept that freaked me out considering I had suffered terrible stomach aches in Thailand just a few days earlier.

I washed my hands three times with soap and ventured forth. It was difficult to clump the rice with my hands. However, I noticed that the natives were very good at creating balls of rice and tossing them into their mouths. On the flipside, I kept getting food all over myself. Later, when I played the kids, they kept laughing at me and picking rice kernels from my shirt.

All in all, it was a productive and fun time for all. I truly envy these kids and their energy. I picked them up and threw them around as best I could. But in the end, old man Kevin needed to rest after only 20 minutes.

See the rest of the pictures here.

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