Before we left Salt Lake City, 15 donors sponsored pigs for Filipino families. Because of this, we were able to award 15 baby piglets to families that we chose through an essay writing competition that Rhen had previously organized. Each of our three schools were awarded 5 pigs --3 to parents of students, and 2 to students. Each recipient was overwhelmed with gratitude for their pig. Even if they couldn't speak English, their eyes spoke to us with thankfulness. It was something we'll never forget. A pig to these people is a very life-changing gift. They will be able to now have a self-sustaining small business for their family. They will raise the pigs to proper maturity, and be able to sell them to a butcher for a substantial amount of money, that they will then use to purchase more pigs to also raise and sell. This will assist them in paying for their children's education, something that not many families can afford.
At the Cultural Exchange, we also distributed 38 Black Diamond solar powered and rechargeable lanterns for selected families. These families were ones that do not have electricity, which makes it very difficult for children to keep up with their school work at home. It's pretty amazing to see how such a seemingly small item can make a person's life so much more resourceful. It was rewarding for us to see the joy on each of their faces!
Here we also distributed over 100 books to our library that we have spent 10 days building at Igpanolong Elementary school. The community members were so grateful! These included recent children's books, as well as classic children books that we all grew up with. Books for adolescents and adults were also included, as we are encouraging both generations to pursue as much education as possible. It was pretty incredible to watch them receive these books. We also distributed 100 newborn kits and 100 safe delivery kits, that were assembled by our ROW team and donors in the Garden Park neighborhood in Salt Lake City. It was delightful to provide these kits, as well as school kits filled with school supplies for each of our Filipino students.
Our time in Antique went by way too fast. We witnessed that people across the world live differently, but are the exact same. Worldwide, we all feel the same emotions, we all strive to be happy, and we ALL have the same capacity to love each other, even in 2 short weeks. If these ROW kids have learned one thing here, it's that they can love, truly love. And that people can be so very happy with very very little.
The simple life is not one we are used to, but it's a good life.
I'm feeling very grateful that I have been able to become friends with these amazing Filipino people. As I left Antique for the third time, I was flooded with love for each child we taught, each teacher at our three schools - I'm telling you, these teachers are absolutely INCREDIBLE - and for each member of our team this year. Your kids are pretty remarkable. I wish you all could have been here to see them further blossom into loving, kind, and responsible young people. They have established close friendships that, I think, will last a very long time. You should be proud of this team, as I'm sure you already are. What a great adventure and learning experience this has been! Like last year, I'm already looking forward to returning next year. This place is becoming like a home to me, and the people are becoming dear, dear friends.
This world is a beautiful place, with beautiful people in it!
-Emily Connolly Graham
|Recieving a Black Diamond lantern|
|Some recipients of Black Diamond lanterns|
|Distributing 100 newborn kits and 100 safe delivery kits|
|Books for Salvacion!|
|Books for the new Igpanolong Library!|
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