Homebuilding, take 3

After a 7am wake up call in Manila (and you know I don’t do mornings) I was up and headed down to breakfast. You really get to know your co-workers when you have the chance to see them bleary-eyed after a long day of travel. After breakfast, we loaded up in vans and headed to Laguna (close to the build site) for lunch. Apparently I am the only vegetarian they’ve ever had on this trip so the cook kindly offered to make me a plate of veggies – and then cooked them in the same chicken-based sauce that everyone else’s stuff was cooked in. Oh well…

Then it was  onto the GK build site – it reminded me a lot of AZ during the time of Hands Across America. Lots of dust, heat, and obvious poverty. 150 families living in tents (provided by the Saudi Arabia government).  (photo coming soon) No running water. Trash everywhere. And amid all this: the children and their adorable faces are heartbreaking. Their clothes are clearly second (or third) hand. Many have dental issues (missing and rotted teeth)  and still they smile at us, seemingly unaware of their situation.  I wish my own children could see this; perhaps they’d feel better about having grown up in a middle-class single parent household.

After walking around to view some recently-built homes (rows of 20meters square cement row houses which will each hold an entire family!) we headed back to the Laguna hotel to prepare for our first “build” day. It’s quiet on the ride back. The reality of why we are here is sinking in…

headed to PH

For the past 7 years my company has sponsored a home building program based in the Philippines: http://gk1world.com/ . Each year volunteers are recruited from our various business units around the world and sent to PH for a week to participate in building homes for refugees who currently live in a tent city (interestingly, the tents were all donated by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia). Never having been to Manila, I eagerly filled out the application and was approved to go! After an orientation meeting and several additional lunches and after work get togethers to plan games for the build site’s children, I felt confident about the trip. Still, never having been to the Philippines before I had no idea what to expect. I spoke with co-workers who had previously gone on this trip; they spoke highly of the experience.  One story (about the positive effects of the trip) I heard over and over again was about an colleague based in Ireland who quit his job and went to work for GK.

You’ll be proud of me, fitting 1 week’s worth of my personal items into a carry one; the donations for the children fit into my checked luggage.

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As for me, I will take the road less travelled…