Let me first start off by saying I am in no way an ‘experienced’ traveler. Being born and raised in Toronto, Canada, I had no idea what to expect from this trip. I knew a couple of past volunteers that shared their experiences prior to leaving, but nothing could have prepared me for what was in store.
From the moment I arrived, to the very last minute spent in Tacloban city, the VFV staff members were always there to lend a hand or to further accommodate any of my needs. They were very friendly, approachable and just a great group of people. Although they all had projects and individual workloads, I felt as though I was always a priority. We were always alerted when possible volunteer opportunities arose (such as medical missions within the city, work at a dumpsite, help at a rehabilitation centre for youths, etc.) and made sure we were always comfortable, regardless of the situation. The planned excursions and festivities were very well organized and I thoroughly enjoyed them and their company.
While volunteering with VFV, my mornings were spent at a rural medical health clinic. The entire staff was very knowledgeable and I learned a lot about both the healthcare system and the practice itself. I must say, I was truly fortunate as I was given many opportunities which I would not find anywhere else. The clinic was constantly bombarded with maternal patients and was definitely a great place to learn about prenatal care. The doctor at Sta. Fe had a large wealth of knowledge pertaining to healthcare as she practiced in various places including Saudi Arabia. The nurses were very encouraging and were always willing to share their knowledge. Overall, I could not have asked for a better clinical experience. Although I was a volunteer, I can’t help but feel as though I am in great debt to the entire staff at the Sta. Fe health clinic.
Though a chunk of my amazing experience came from the volunteer work itself, I can’t forget to mention the excursions, festivities, and of course, the amazing community I spent my spare time with. There were relaxing days at the beach, visiting of major landmarks, cave exploring, exciting cliff jumps into open waters (which I sadly could not part take in), beautiful sights, fiestas, and days where I just spent time with the locals (which I now consider my good mga sangkay (friends)). From the children, to my peers and adults, everyone was welcoming and I was quickly immersed into their lifestyle. I must say, being a pre-med student, it was quite refreshing to be living stress-free and just bonding with people from all walks of life. Being with VFV, I was also introduced to other volunteers from various parts of the world. They too were integral in the shaping of my trip as I bonded with them, enjoyed the culture together, and worked hard as a team to help organize and execute the exhausting medical missions.
I must say that the only factor that limited my experience was the time. I unfortunately could only stay for one month due to prior commitments back home. I hope everyone enjoyed my company as much as I enjoyed theirs because I will undoubtedly be making a return trip. Countless memories were made… all of which I will treasure and definitely will not forget. I owe my thanks to everyone who helped shape this amazing experience. Thank you for your warm kindness and hospitality. Thank you VFV for providing me with the opportunity in being part of your organization. Please keep up the amazing work. Not only is it beneficial to the society as a whole, but it also provides a fulfilling experience to the volunteers who so happen to choose to work with you. Thanks again, and I hope to see you all sometime soon.
P.S. Use tiger balm for mosquito bites!