It’s been more than a month since I’ve been home from volunteering in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines. Sorry about the delayed update. These posts are just significantly less interesting to do after the fact. In total I spent 21 days there working with All Hands Volunteers (AHV). Mostly thanks to the generosity of others!
My main concerns about going on other people’s cash was that the trip be worthwhile. Worth their money, worth my time and money, and worth AHV giving me a spot. And I suppose to a lesser extent, if the work that AHV was offering was worth doing. So in hindsight, how did all those factors work out? Money and time (same thing) well spent?
The work that AHV had available to help flood victims was completely worth doing. With disaster response volunteering the most popular jobs are often the ones where you can see first hand who you’re helping and how. Meet the people, work with them, and help solve a problem. This project was quite good for that. Plenty of times I worked inside a family home, clearing out mountains of mud and debris. The types of work available was fairly varied for the few weeks I was there. I pretty evenly divided my time up between building temporary housing, clearing mud and debris from salvageable family homes, and constructing new homes at the Habitat For Humanity site. Plus a couple of Saturday mornings playing with the kids in the tent city. Lots of experiences, and lots of variety.
Did I do enough work to justify the donations? I think so, yes. With a 6 day work week, I think I had 3 days off in total. So for the 18 days of work I feel like I got plenty done. Plus I always had the countdown of remaining days looming over my head to make sure I put a good effort in. I never did shake the nagging guilt of having to take donations though. So I’m working hard to have money in my savings for when the next project comes around.
All things considered, my Cagayan de Oro volunteering stint was a success. On a purely personal level, it was a complete success. I had an awesome time! The Philippines is a very cool and interesting country. So many people there are very nice. Yet again I noticed that people who’ve lost everything are often the kindest.