I have been so busy with work! Last weekend we had a very successful meal packaging event in the Philippines. The event was with the U.S. Peace Corps and the Lipa Archdiocesan Social Action Commission (LASAC). With the two organizations working together they raised enough funds to package a little over 30,000 meals with Stop Hunger Now! Every person I met in the Philippines was so welcoming, kind and generous. The Peace Corps volunteers I met are stationed in various schools throughout the local areas teaching children English. They were describing the absolute poverty they see daily, how basic needs of water, shelter, safety, and food are not met. They were telling me education is a luxury to some children there, crazy?!?! Some parents send their kids to school just so they can receive food. They explained how school aged children are weighed, their BMI’s are calculated, and then the school classifies the malnourished children as either “wasted” or “severely wasted.” They said it is even sadder because a lot of students don’t fit these criteria but they are still starving.
I have observed that this type of volunteer work brings together so many different people of various backgrounds, races, religions, and cultures, but everyone has the one common purpose of giving back to those in need. Sometimes it can be difficult, because a side effect of doing this challenging work is that you’re pulled by excitement and pushed by uncertainty at the same time. It’s truly inspiring work though, because in the end people put aside their egos and pride and focus on the overall objective to help the more than one billion people worldwide that suffer from hunger.
Another highlight of my trip to the Philippines was the one day I got to spend in the capital, Manila, before flying back to Kuala Lumpur. I got to meet up with Vivian Cheng, the PULSE volunteer assigned there with Save the Children. We had a delicious meal together (and shared a good bottle of wine). It was great catching up with her, sharing stories with one another, discussing the work we are doing, some new challenges we have faced, and how we are both growing from the overall experience.
I have to thank her again too, because she got me a last-minute tour of the GSK facility in Manila! I was literally flying out Monday afternoon, but she managed to get me in for an office tour Monday morning. I met some wonderful people there as well, all so nice and curious about my PULSE assignment. I was thinking about my first six weeks in SE Asia. I feel so fortunate to have visited three new countries in that short amount of time (Malaysia, Singapore, and Philippines). I hope I can continue traveling to different places in this part of the world, learning more, and meeting new fabulous people! Stay tuned…