By: Pauline Herbommez
I have now been teaching for the last two years in a very successful international school with very privileged children. This experience gave me the need to give some of the time I am lucky to have as a teacher to children who do not have the same stories as the children where I teach.
I soon realized when I arrived in Cebu, Philippines that I was going to love the warmth and the love radiating in this country and that the departure a month later was going to be a difficult one.
Upon my arrival at the airport, some young adults working for Pandoo’s community center welcomed me with a large banner saying “Welcome Miss Pauline.” Their smiles and excitement were very touching. I directly went to the community center where I was surprised to see a lot of children dancing and singing, full of energy. I have yet to find a better remedy for jet lag! I soon discovered that singing and dancing were going to be a very big part of this volunteering experience.
I tried to get involved as much as possible throughout the month with the children and the teachers. Storytelling in schools, going on outreaches, working in the center with the staff and the children, repainting the walls, organizing a Funday Wednesday, having deep conversations about life in the Philippines in the infamous jeepney journeys, discovering the lives of those young children I soon got attached to….
Joining this big family who spend their daily lives creating the best atmosphere so that the children can experience childhood was by far the highlight of this experience. Play, learn, be loved and cared for. We should never allow poverty to trample childrens’ rights.
I absolutely loved this experience and it has changed me. It has changed the way I want to lead my life. It has changed the way I see poverty. It has changed the way I see happiness. More importantly it has changed the way I think, live, teach or influence my close friends and family.