Its always a nice recharge to visit mama in the Philippines. I get to sleep 12 hour nights (after eating and drinking for another 12 hours), tell mama I love her in person, see relatives, and meet new friends. I also make sure to visit Manila and when possible, visit a new place if time (and money) persists.
But the coolest thing of all is that for some reason, an opportunity to actually help the community I visit always reveals itself.
This will be my 3rd year helping my aunt’s clinic, a “free children’s mobile clinic” helping children of the province my mom is from. This time my aunt is collaborating with a team of doctors and dentists who perform surgeries on children as well as adults who have facial deformities such as cleft lips and palettes. Deformities that occur in the fetus where the baby’s mouth or lip doesn’t forge fully enough. More info at Wiki.
The team is called Faces of Tomorrow (FOT), and after working for years in South America, they are now going to the Philippines for the first time, with my aunt’s clinic as its host. My aunt’s job was to get the local government involved, find a hospital to host the surgeries, and connect with local midwives, nurses, and physicians. And after a year of emails, phone calls, and visits to the Philippines, FOT will be operating on 60 (or more) children AND adults from January 16-22, 2011.
And how fitting that it ends on my mama’s birthday. Coincidence? As rickety as my faith is after mama’s stroke, im confident in saying there is a higher power at hand here.
After 3 years, I like to brag that im part of a “small global community of voluntourists.” Crossing miles of earth to change the worlds of people I actually don’t know too much about, have never met, and will probably never meet again. Then again I do get something back in return, these people are in fact folks from my mother’s community. I feel that in making their lives a bit better, I help my mom too.
But I hope one day, when I go on vacation to Hawaii, the Bahamas, or to Cancun, that not only will I look for the best rates, the best hotels, and the best places to eat, but that I also try to find communities who are in need of something that I have abundance in. The best that I can give when I visit.
Until then, my perfect vacation spot is the province from which my mother is from. There is never too much to give there too.