my name's Hélène, I am a 22 year old French student and I am volunteering in the Philippines in an orphanage for a German association (Mariphil).
At first I wanted to finance my project on my own. However it is more complicated than I thought (financial situation of this association, difficulties for me to find so much money while studying..), and the other volunteers told me that lots of friends and people would be proud and happy to help me if they knew that I moved to one of the most dangerous places of the world in order to help homeless children.
First of all, I'd like to introduce myself a bit more. I have a Bachelor in economics and management and I have studied German at a master level. I love climbing, music, reading, wrinting and new experiences (That's why I want to give French classes in the children's village and I will be leading a singing club, a photoclub and a running club with the other volunteers for them).
Last year I met people from all over the world and it made me realize that I had not seen anything of the world.
Then I heard about Mariphil as I was an Erasmus student in Germany, and I thought that it would make sense if I could belong to this association. It is a small association which helps children to go to school in the Philippines, where they live in a house with a « mama », who cooks for them and looks after them. Mariphil was created about 10 years ago and provides a home and education to homeless children. Children have several backgrounds : some have been abandonned or neglected, some have been abused (sexually) ; some came from families under the minimum wage.
Also, I decided that it had to be involved in a non-French association, so I could bring something special - another language, another knowledge (and because I want to be European and not only French).
Why fund it?
I arrived in the children's village on Tuesday in the night, so I can give you my first impressions of the place : people are very kind and very helpful, although they have no money. Sometimes it is hard to communicate with them (not all of them can speak english), but they are happy to introduce foreigners to their culture.
If you have been looking at my pictures, you're probably thinking that the children look very happy and don't need help at all. But it would be missunderstand where these kids come from. They have been saved from the street, some are under judiciary control because they have been forced to steal to survive. And some don't even exist for the society because they have been abandonned without birth certificate... Here the State doesn't care of homeless kids and let them stay where they are from : the street. The association that I want to work for did an incredible job, and I'm very proud to help them.
(the next picture shows the town... there is nothing else than these poor houses and people begging)
But here in the children's village and with the help of the volunteers, we are like a big family, living, cooking, learning together.
I share my room with a German volunteer. We don't have warm water and we don't even have a shower. We don't have electricity in our rooms and we also have to share the place with cockroaches, spiders, lizards, mosquitos... But it is also a nice experience fo me, so I can try to understand how we achieved such high living standards in Europe, and why it is not the case in the Philippines (or other places of the world).
"Ate" is a form of respect. It means that they have to learn from us.
The children's village is based in Panabo City in Mindanao. The very day we arrived, foreigners had been kidnapped in Samal, a few kilometers away from here. All the volunteers have been told to stay in the village until we have more information.
Although there is a danger, I decided to stay here (so did the other volunteers) and help the kids and do something useful for them. This season, the little baby of the marketing fundraising German volunteer is very sick so she won't be there, that's why I will be the only helper for marketing and the association really need my help.
Some of you may be surprised that I want to work without being paid : an orphanage isn't an industry. More of that, the orphanage won't get funding from the city because of political conflicts (it is a complicated story of money, power, interests...). And I'm convinced that my job with the kids can change their lifes.
However, being a volunteer has costs :
1) Costs :
Accomodation and food cost 300 euros per month. Personal expenses are about 60 euros per month. Insurance cost me a bit more than 100 euros each month and I had to pay 942 euros for the plane (plus 170 euros to book the return flight because it can't be booked too long in advance). I also have to count 30 euros per month for the visa. And I already had to pay about 300 euros for my vaccinations. That's 4082 euros in total.
2) My ressources :
I have been working one month this summer so I earned 800 euros. I translated textes for a German tourism company and made 700 euros. And I gave private lessons which brought me about 400 euros (total of ressources : 1900 euros).
It means that 2182 euros are still missing to fullfil my project, which is a lot. Now I am here in the Philippines and there are are lots of things to do and that I want to do : bring the kids to school, make a movie of them, give English, French and German classes, bring them to develop their skills. They are amazing and loving, full of potential (although we also have more difficult cases) and they need a chance to have an education and a family.
That's why I need you, and we all do...
THANK YOU !