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Roving Wild Little adventures through this bea-U-tiful planet of ours :)

Sea turtles and new projects!

PHILIPPINES | Friday, 25 July 2014 | Views [429]

Whew! Apologies for the lack of updates, but the internet here is only fast enough to load pages until noon most days. I am in transit or at the clinic from 6:30am-1:30pm on weekdays so you see the issue.

Where did we leave off? On Thursday night, 13 volunteers (including me) got ready to go on a diving weekend in the south of Leyte island, near a place called Sogod. The driver of the van we rented showed up about two hours late, but after all of us waiting on the side of the road in the dark for two hours at the point of hysterical laughter, we were on our way! The van was filled to the brim which didn't help the 3-hour bus ride through the second most winding road I've been on (after the trip to Sagada). We stopped once to allow one of the volunteers go get out and throw up on the side of the highway, but aside from that the trip was uneventful. I happily rocked out and mouthed the words to "Total Eclipse of the Heart," some of the top-knotch music the driver provided from his mp3 player, while the other volunteers slept in back.

We arrived around 10:30pm and nearly cried with appreciation that the hotel staff stayed late at the restaurant (which technically closes at 8:30pm) to feed us. 10 of us stayed in a rented house that was supposed to sleep four, but in low season apparently no one cares so the staff stuffed a bunch of extra mattresses in. Three of us stayed in a much quieter but beautiful room down the beach that had three beds and a private bathroom with hot showers with ACTUAL WATER PRESSURE, and flush toilets! And there were no bugs in the room at all, somehow! No roosters or dogs nearby either, since we were outside town a bit, so we slept like angels. Total luxery for about $10/night each. We slept and awoke to the sounds of ocean waves immediately outside our balcony.

The next day I did two wall dives and a night dive under the pier in town, all of which were stunning. I love wall dives 100% the most, the ocean floor suddenly drops off and you're left swimming next to a literal wall of coral and sea life, with no ground above or below you that you can see. I saw a big turtle swimming gracefully and followed it for a while. The night dive was very cool as always- we saw three turtles (!), stargazer fish, two seahorses sleeping with their tails wrapped around corals, and tons of interesting sea creatures. Thoroughly enjoyed myself despite having lost one of my contacts before I started any of the dives. Because I foolishly forgot my backup pairs, I spent the entire day only seeing out of one eye! Hahaha, still good though.

The next two days were pure relaxation. Decided not to dive with one contact again, so I spent all my time visiting, sleeping in, playing Chinese checkers and floating in the ocean. Can't really beat that.

We got back late Sunday night and woke up for our projects early Monday morning. This week I've helped with intake, helped with the prenatal clinic, and gave immunizations to a million screaming babies. It's been great! I also spent a lot of time talking to the midwife-slash-nurse (he's been trained in both). He was finishing a night shift at 5am in the clinic with two other nurses when Typhoon Yolanda hit last November. It was raining in typical typhoon fashion (they get 20 a year in the Philippines, mostly just rain and wind for a day or two) when suddenly, he said, the roof blew off the clinic! He described as a man came to the clinic with a gigantic shard of glass in his chest, and he brought the man under a table- the only covered area they had- and removed the shard, tying his chest in a tournequit right there in the middle of the typhoon! He saved the antibiotics and stitching materials as they waited the typhoon out, dealing with patients as they arrived.

Help took one week to get there after the disaster struck. Al, the midwife/nurse, told me that he rationed antibiotics as much as possible and, for lack of a doctor, prescribed them as needed. He lived at the clinic that month, since his house had been destroyed, and he dealt with patients 24 hours a day until MSF brought in other medical staff after the first couple of weeks. My organization, VFV, was the first to send medical supplies after week one. The conversation has me thinking a lot, and 100% reinforced my desire to work in disaster relief. I think that is going to move up to my number one goal working in health care. It was incredible to talk to someone like Al, and I'm so grateful to be working with him.

Today I didn't go to clinic because I'm working on another side project with another volunteer named Ethel. She volunteers weekly at the women's shelter here. The women have been abused or traffiked, it's very intense. We decided to do a presentation for them regarding basic health and hygiene, buttt this project has turned into a big one.

We are now doing one presentation on that, followed by one for the women regarding women's health (breast health, UTIs, menstruation, contraception, pregnancy, safe sex and other important topics...most girls there are under 17), one on health specifically tailored to the four transgender girls who stay at the shelter (covering topics like oral hormones, breast health since they're on the hormones, shabu- the drug like meth that many traffiked youth are forced to take during their imprisonment- and addiction, safe male-male sex and other subjects), AND a presentation for a young boy who lives there who had nowhere else to go.

We're presenting tomorrow! Ethel is American but her family is Filipino, so she speaks Tagalog and can adequately translate everything for us. I can't wait! It's been really exciting putting together all the info and finishing it up is today's mission. We're thinking of going back on Tuesday, as well, to present on healthy relationships and boundary-setting, since obviously those can become issues for people who have been abused in the past. Ethel leaves next week, but who knows? I might put together some more presentations for after she leaves, if I can find a translator since the girls are not completely confident in their English skills.

This weekend's goal is to sleep in and put together the presentations. Next week I can't possibly anticipate. All I know is that I love it here. I'm missing home and the people and cats that I love, but I'm also feeling very settled and happy here :) Thank you for reading and I'll send an update next week some time. Sending lots of love home!

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