The name Charlie has somewhat become a household name at San Joaquin Nutrition Center, one of the Nutrition Projects of VFV under its Public Health Program. Seeing his name written on the wall of the center, and hearing stories about him, anyone who has not met him yet in person would somehow wonder what kind of person he is. Just recently, everybody’s curiosity about him was about to be answered.
Last July 13, 2017, our dear Charlie has once again set his foot in Tacloban City but this time around, something was special – he was with his beloved daughter, Megan, who, just like her dad, was driven by a strong desire to make a difference to the lives of the people in our place. And their tandem has indeed proved to make a lot of difference.
You ask Charlie how he would describe himself and he’s got a straightforward answer for you (jokingly though) – “Handsome and Kind!” But everyone would agree. He used to be a “bad boy” when he was younger he admits, but it’s a thing of the past. He is now 56, but a hard-working fellow, who’s got special skills in carpentry, scenic painting for TV, and stage construction for all events, which he does for a living back in the UK. He can still recall the moment which ignited the passion he has for volunteering. His mom was a volunteer herself working for an international non-profit organization and she was and she is still his major influence in volunteering. It was a heartbreaking moment when they saw the sad news about Tacloban after the onslaught of typhoon Yolanda but that was the same moment when he got up and decided he needed to do something to help whatever it takes, and the rest is history.
Charlie, got first involved with VFV in February of 2014, just a few months after the typhoon wreaked havoc, and during the time when the people were barely on their feet trying to recover and heal the wounds that the supertyphoon has brought to their lives. Since then, nothing’s stopping Charlie from doing volunteer and community projects for the people of the Eastern Visayas region. As a “carpenter all his life”, Charlie was able to share his expertise by helping out in the construction of the temporary housing project in Sto. Nino, one of the relocation projects erected by the government and some generous donors for the victims of the typhoon during that time. He initially stayed for one month but he would soon return after a year and this time around, with more personal missions in his bucket list, which according to him he needed to win. He stayed for seven months and his skills had once again became very useful in the construction and repair of several infrastructures in the city and the neighboring communities. He helped build a bridge in northern Tacloban, the Youth Hub downtown, the Nutrition and ALS Center for the Dumpsite Project in Kawayan, and the San Joaquin Nutrition Center
which became his pet project and up until now, is still being funded by him for the supplemental feeding of the kids in said village who have nutritional deficiencies. He can still recall the exact date of the very first feeding session he had with the kids, that was March 24, 2015 and from that day on, a lot of young lives would be afforded better chances.
Volunteering, Charlie says, is his idea of a holiday. He loves to work and make other people happy. He loves working with other volunteers and make new friends along the way. His friends and relatives at home can only say “wow!” to everything he does for the people of Eastern Visayas. There are some who would ask why he doesn’t do it at home instead, with the people in UK? But to him, his help is more needed on this side of the globe than at home. Every time he comes back to Tacloban, he’s got only two things in mind – to help and to win!
Charlie and Megan’s recent visit was only for three weeks but they were able to maximize their time. Charlie refurbished his Nutrition Center giving it a “face-lift” which included the tiling of the center’s floor to give the kids a nicer and safer place to play on, while Megan busied herself and had fun preparing nutritious food for the kids, playing and hanging out with them. He was also able to help in the
initial phase of the IT Library Project for the Northern Tacloban City High School where he simultaneously gave hands-on Carpentry classes to the senior high school students of said school. He also helped organize a medical mission for the victims of the
recent earthquake in Ormoc City by providing the much-needed medical supplies. He also started a livelihood projects for the locals like the Sako-Bag Project and a 6-month employment contract for July who is now working for the San Joaquin nutrition center.
Over the next five years, Charlie eyes on running more livelihood projects and an in-house training center which will be self-sufficient and will support the San Joaquin nutrition center. He is interested in promoting “Voluntourism” considering the beauty of the Philippine archipelago and the life-changing volunteering experience one can have while sojourning here. And to anyone who is thinking of volunteering, Charlie has this to say, “Get out, visit VFV, work hard, and make other people happy!”
Thank you big time, Charlie and Megan! Thank you for making the kids at San Joaquin happy. Thank you for sharing your lives with them. Thank you for the love! And lastly, we say, “Mission accomplished Charlie!”