The last few weeks of my trip were tiring and hard, but worth the effort for the work we were doing. For the last two weeks of the trip, we worked in schools with children in kindergarten to grade six mostly. These children have never had the opportunity to have their teeth cleaned. While we did not have the time or resources to clean each and every single child’s teeth, we were able to apply fluoride to help make their teeth stronger and decrease the chances of further decay from occurring. We also provided them with information on how to properly brush their teeth. We travelled by car to many different areas surrounding Cebu City. We spent a week at Mount Olives Christian School in Consalasion and Mandaue. We spent three days at Napo Elementary School in Napo, Guadalupe and we spent the last two days in Kamlua (and one other school) in Lapu-Lapu.
Napo Elementary School was the school that really took my heart. All of the children and teaching staff were amazing. We spent Canada day there and celebrated by helping with a feeding program. The feeding program allows all students to have the opportunity for a healthy fulfilling meal that they otherwise might not get on a regular basis. We also played games and sang songs with the children. Some of the children who attend this school walk two hours down the mountain everyday just to be in school and then have to walk another two hours up the mountain just to get home. In one case, there was a little girl who would not smile. The staff at the school informed us that she was in kindergarten and since they finish early in the day, she had to wait for her older sibling before they could make their journey up the mountain, to home. You could tell this child was malnourished. Not only did we provide her with food from the feeding program, we also gave her left-overs from our lunch and put more in her backpack for her to take home. Seeing this girl really put in plain view how many people are living in the poverty ridden areas in the Philippines.
Through this amazing experience, I was able to grow more as a person. The children we worked with demonstrated that even though they do not have much, they have each other and every day that they are alive is a blessing. The Rise Above Foundation, the foundation we were working with, could not have expressed their happiness and appreciation more than they did. I hope that one day I can go back again.
For anyone who is thinking of travelling to the Philippines, here are a few pointers: Always pack toilet paper and hand sanitizer everywhere you go! Many places charge you to use their toilets and then charge extra for toilet paper! It is also very important that you use hand sanitizer before touching your face or eating food, which is most likely the case when traveling to other countries.
By: Kayla Schofield, winner of the BCSA Stories from Abroad Scholarship