As we anxiously exited our 20+ hour flight, it finally dawned on me that we were in the Philippines. This being my second time out of the country, I was reminded of what it's like to be in a foreign land. My excitement prevailed my jet lag as we began to make our way to our destination. We were welcomed by the Daughters of Charity who have graciously accommodated us during our stay. They took us to Hospicio De San Jose in the city of Manila. The Hospicio operate as an orphanage housing the sick, abandoned, and elderly. While there, we received a tour where were greeted by the vibrant personalities of young children who bombarded us with warm hugs and playful spirits.
Additionally, we would have the chance to met our GLOBE borrower, Olive Cerro. Olive operates a small store in Manila where she sells groceries, kitchenware, and ingredients. She gave us a tour of her home where we were able to meet her family. A small woman with a large smile, I would best describe her as admirable. Olive has 8 children that she cares for daily. She explained to us that they are school aged. Because of this, she wakes up before the crack of dawn to prepare breakfast for each of them using only one hot plate. I was happy to learn that our GLOBE loan had assisted in the education of her children.
Despite her circumstances and the poverty she faces, she greeted us with a welcoming spirit. I believe that we shared mutual excitement in meeting one another.
The following day we met with the Philippines Chapter of Habitat for Humanity. They offer incremental housing/micro housing projects thought the Philippines. They took to us to a village in Manila where we were able to sit in on a meeting with their borrowers, all of which were women. This moment has been the highlight of my trip thus far. During that meeting, we learned what they did with their micro loans from Habitat as well as how the program is helping them in their personal lives. They explained that their weekly meeting where they repay their loans also allows them to catch up with one another. Because of this, they have created a support network. Like other's we've met, they were welcoming, and pretty hilarious all things considering. I was grateful that they allowed me to sit in on their meet and and share laughs with them. That being my first time experiencing extreme poverty, my heart was heavy as I left them. My life and the way I viewed the world changed.