Each one of us has a mission here on Earth


Tel: 020 7361 4752

Claire in Philippines

Claire Kiely, a recent graduate in Nutrition and Sports Science, describes her first days in her project:

…so we arrived in Roxas, where I will be assigned for the remainder of the year, in a beautiful landscape of lush grass, green hills, mountains and a quaint little village. I met my fellow workers who were all very welcoming with signs around the office and house saying Welcome Claire!

Claire in PhilippinesMy house is called the "dream house". It's a very simple hut made out of wood with a tin roof! There are no walls just wooden open squares. Inside it's beautiful, full of colour, as it used to be a nursery! It's very basic - beds, a small wardrobe, a cupboard, a table and stools, then down the steps there is a little charcoal grill, a bathroom (C.R) consisting of a bucket, a ladle and a toilet basin - that's it - there is no sink, no bathtub, no shower, no fridge and no running water! Our faucet is damaged so we walk down to the bottom of the hill every morning to turn the water on which is linked to our house with a hose pipe, we then fill our buckets up for the day then walk back down and turn the water off! So as you can imagine it's very basic!

Inside the house is not sealed like our houses back home so there are many creatures that live with us! This is one thing that I'm not coping with!! In our house there are lizards, geckos, spiders - and not just your average Joe blogs spider, I mean huge ones! There are also cockroaches, mosquitoes, and ants. We actually have just had terminators in to get rid of the ants as we had a massive termite hill outside the house with the king and queen of ants about the size of a small thumb!! Oh yeah, and we also have rats, as I have recently just discovered to my horror!! This was not so funny and I ended up not using the office C.R for a few days due to being a scaredy cat! I wish the creatures would leave me alone now!!!

Because we're in the rainy season now, it rains a lot! And the rain is very heavy, like monsoon rain! At night time because of our metal roof the rain is so noisy we can't hear each other talk it's that loud, and the rain comes through the gaps, so we have many buckets lying around the house!! About the noise - every morning the roosters wake us up at about 4. I seriously want to shoot them! So the place is very noisy but at least you don't feel alone! There's always someone or some creature to keep you company!

Claire in PhilippinesOur day starts at 5.00am, we get the water, light the charcoal, cook the food, eat, I run, then shower, we then pray, then get ready for work, and we're at work at 7.30 which is next door! I work in a children's centre, my job is sponsor relations (S.R) coordinator and ECCD early childhood care and development. This involves me working with children in their letter writing, going to the areas and schools of the children to assess their health and education, which I later report and write up! On my visits to the areas we often visit the homes which are in the shanty towns, which really shocked me on my first trip as it's the sort of place you only see in a magazine and looking at it is so different to actually being in it! The picture does not capture the reality of it! So when I first visited some children in one area I was shocked by the sheer poverty! The shanty town was built on top of a river; the houses were on stilts above the river which was black and full of rubbish and dirt! But once again the friendliness, kindness and happiness of the people concealed the poverty and after a while you don't notice it anymore!

Every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons I conduct activities for the children, like story telling, reading, writing, drawing, singing, dancing and playing games. The work day finishes about 5pm, then the local children come round our house again. We (me and Luz) then play, sing, and dance with them, they are so cute! On Saturdays the mothers, the youth, and the children from the barangays (villages) come for sessions and activities, which are very well organized and constructed. They learn about life skills and relationships, the mothers learn of health, and the children read, write and draw. The children here surround us with smiles, laughter, happiness, and joy; they are always happy no matter what, and they love to play come rain or sun! They are also teaching me to speak Ilongo here as most people's English is very limited so it's hard to chat, and if I don't learn it will make me isolated so I'm learning! But it's very slow! The children help lots as they always teach me words like alibangbang-butterfly, damang-spider, itikitik-tickle, and the basic sentences.

On Sundays and Mondays we have days off work, we usually go to the market for our weekly shop and then wash our clothes, and then there's usually a fiesta, or a birthday of someone so we go there! There is also the local beach Bay-bay, it is so beautiful! I only wish I could spend every day there.

So to round it up, I'm in good health, I'm very safe and I'm being looked after very very well! I'm settled in now, and I'm very happy here, the Philippines has a very peaceful atmosphere, and the happiness and warmth of the people especially the children keep me going! Everyday I'm learning something new, I'm learning quickly to live simply, and I am learning what truly matters to me, and what doesn't matter to me!

At the end of her beautiful year in the Philippines Claire reflects:

Claire with childrenThroughout my year here, there are things that I struggled to cope with, especially seeing children from my sessions rummaging through rubbish, unwashed, unclean and unhealthy. I still stand in awe as to how these children survive. I feel guilty, I feel helpless, even if I reach out and help them I still know that whatever is done is only temporary. But however poor or hungry these children are what I have found is that they are still so happy and so grateful for what they have.

When I arrived in my area I remember thinking of how little the community had; what I gradually found was that they in fact have more than I had, only what they treasured was inside them. The people and children here have so much, but not in the way you or I might think, you see it in the way they ARE and the way they share everything. The children would share everything with me if they could, when they offer me some of their food, the thought of it warms me as I know how hungry they are and to offer me their Pan de Sal (miniature bread) is the sweetest thing! Since I have been here it is the community, the children, the mothers, the staff and AMA (Associate Missionaries of the Assumption) who have strengthened me, who have taught me what to value in life. I never realised how much you can live your life to the full, till I saw these beautiful children, they make magic out of everything they see and do, if you could see them you would know why I am now finding it so hard knowing I will leave them behind and move on with my life..

The year has made me grow up, I still live in my own crazy world, but I have been forced to questions things, to focus my attention on the present moment - managing the basic conditions of the house, being rained on inside your house, finding lizards everywhere and ants always in your food, having a rice belly from so much rice!, learning the language and making lots of mistakes, adapting to the culture even if you feel like the blonde Big Friendly Giant!, having fantastic hilarious misunderstandings, the not-so-grown-up things - having lots of fun in the swamp forgetting the dirt, jumping around like a frog, pulling silly faces all day with the kids, singing in Ilongo, laughing so much with the AMAs on our travels and adventures. I have learnt so much and enjoyed it!

But the real things I have learnt are those inside and the friendships I have formed for life, the people and children here who are now part of my family. What I expected of this experience was to find gratitude in life. What I learnt was simple - you live your life for now and love your life for what it is. You love and care for the people in your life and in your reach. The community have shown me so much love, care and patience, and I am trying to give back to them the same that they have given me. I am so thankful to have had this experience here in Nasagud in the Philippines! The people and especially the children have been engraved on my heart. I will miss Nasagud and will think of it as a home, a very special place to me.

I have loved my time in the Philippines, I have beautiful memories and I will leave behind a big part of my heart. I hope I can take back home with me and continue to use what I learnt about life, living it in simplicity, happily with love. The people and children of the Philippines have filled my life with love and happiness. I will never forget them, I love them and I will miss them.

Palanga ka sa inyo kag Nahidlaw gid ako sa inyo!