Monday, January 13, 2014

ERD Visit

I apologize for the delay in posts. Last week, I was in Manila meeting with Peter Ng, Asian Global Partnership Officer for the Episcopal Church. After many hours of traveling and meetings, I didn’t have the energy to blog. I promise to get back on track this week!

A month ago, December 11, Sarah Delaney of Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) did a quick tour of current Episcopal Church of the Philippines’ projects. As part of that tour she came up to Santiago to see the Dap’ayan processing center. Unfortunately, her trip up to the Diocese was delayed and due to a tight schedule she only briefly saw the center before it closed for the day. However, she was able to have dinner with some staff members to socialize and learn more.

On December 12, Sarah headed back to Manila via car for the dreaded 9 hour drive. The EDS staff hated the idea of having only the driver accompany her. They enlisted Rebecca and me to ride along. While I am beginning to despise the drive to Manila, I greatly enjoyed the conversation with Sarah. We talked about anything from life experiences to jobs to visiting other cultures and countries to the impact of development work. The easily flowing conversation quickly passed the time.

The main reason for taking a car was to stop at a community, Licab, along the way. Before Super Typhoon Yolanda took over the headlines, the Philippines was hit by other major storms including Typhoon Santi (you may remember me mentioning it in this post). Typhoon Santi was not a small storm and I remember feeling relieved when it changed its path away from Santiago City. Even still, the storm forced me to live without power and stay indoors for a whole weekend.

Not everyone was spared. The community of Licab sits on hectares of wide-open fields with great vulnerability to wind. The Diocese of Central Philippines assisted the community in constructing a water tank and storage warehouse with a solar panel on top. Thyphoon Santi not only took away the solar panel, water tank and the roof of the warehouse but also caused great damage to the community’s homes (see pictures below).

Roof was completely blown off of the warehouse.

There used to be a water tank on the top.

Sarah stands where a house used to be.

Sarah’s purpose of visiting was to assess the damage, speak to the community about how they’re recovering, and suggest how to move forward possibly with ERD’s assistance. After winding through rural farms and fields for about half an hour, we came upon a large hanging bridge. Yes, we had to cross this scary, nerve-wracking, wobbly, swinging bridge over a large river. Moreen, a development worker, kept reassuring me it used to be a lot worse with rotten wood and pieces missing. It didn’t help. I kept telling myself, don’t look down. Don’t look down. One step at a time. We made it! But then I remembered we’d have to cross it again to get back. Just another adventure pushing the limits of my comfort zone in the Philippines.

Me slowly crossing the bridge 

After a couple of hours visiting with the community and watching a gorgeous sunset, we continued on our way to Manila. Sarah continued her tour of the Philippines at 4am the next morning with a short trip to Tacloban, the hardest hit area of Super Typhoon Yolanda. You can read more about trip on her blog. She said she couldn’t have imagined what she saw or even smelled!

Don't worry the Karaoke machine survived! 

Although I went straight back to Santiago the next day, I greatly enjoyed the conversations with Sarah and learning more about ERD’s work. She’ll be coming back in February and hopefully she’ll have more time to visit Santiago!

Thanks for reading!

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