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Busy days, crazy nights

PHILIPPINES | Saturday, 2 August 2014 | Views [373]

Well, I have to say that this has been my favorite week since I’ve been in Tacloban, as far as work goes!

Monday- Went to the clinic to learn that the only doctor there is away for a week at a seminar in Manila, and we can only handle emergencies or blood pressure measuring without her. Ended up going into a couple of surrounding villages to give immunizations to babies for things like measles and polio- a great time! We took the midwife’s bright blue tricycle down some of the rockiest “roads” in the countryside, with the sun shining on us and the wind in our faces. We finished around lunchtime in one of the towns, then were asked to wait an hour while they cooked lunch for us! Chicken and rice arrived and the woman providing it felt awful that I only ate the rice…I had worried stares from everyone for the entire meal. Luckily for me, I had been reading a book written by a Buddhist monk before the meal, so when they asked if I was Buddhist and I said yes, I was kind of avoiding the inevitable explanation when the food arrived about why I’m vegetarian. Filipinos generally do NOT understand why on earth you would be a vegetarian, but fortunately since they’re in Asia they know about Buddhism and that reasoning stops them from trying to convince you just to eat the chicken, or at least the fish! We enjoyed the meal together before heading back to the clinic and finishing for the day.

That night we went out to a tranny karaoke bar and danced and sang like crazy. Favorite quote from Maria- “I had a lot of expectations for this trip, but I can tell you for sure that I never expected to be in a tranny bar on a Monday night, singing karaoke with friends from all over the world!” Nick and I have had “Mama Mia” (our song) stuck in our heads for four days now.

Tuesday- Went with Ethel to the women’s shelter and finally gave our presentation! It was a huge success, I would say. Ethel mostly spoke it out since she could translate into Tagalog, but I did feel useful because there were a few times I needed to explain something medical in a little more depth, or answer some health questions from the social worker. The girls giggled a bit, but mostly were really mature and seemed interested (at least they were good at faking it if they didn’t give a crap, which is all I ask for!). At the end, we gave everyone a little piece of paper to write down an anonymous question, which we then answered for the entire group. Lots of really awesome question! Despite the social worker warning them in Tagalog that the section on contraception was “For their information ONLY” and kind of seemed to be telling them not to use them as Catholics (though my Tagalog is clearly pretty limited, that was the impression I got from the few English words she used), there were lots of questions about the pill and IUD’s, as well as a few about the other topics we covered- including shabu, or meth, which is somewhat common here. Someone asked more about the dangers of it so I felt really good being able to explain it to some folks who rarely get internet access and thus can’t learn much about it on their own! My plan is to head back to give some more information to the transgender girls who asked a bit about hormones that I only had limited information on at the time. This day was probably the highlight of my time at VFV.

Wednesay- “Helped out” at the construction site that two other volunteers who have been working on building a house for a new VFV sponsorchild’s family in the hardest-hit area in Tanauan. Had a nice time just being outside, sawed some coconut tree lumber, hammered some nails, much more straight-forward than construction is back home. The family has been living in a blazing hot emergency shelter/tent for the last eight months so it’s so exciting they’ll finally have walls! We had a great day, despite my ridiculous sunburn that most of you have now seen on Facebook! That night I arrived at tutoring and the girls all said "Ate Kirsten, how are you!" As I turned around to say hello, they went dead silent and one girl said slowly "What happened...to your face...oh...my...god." At least I always knows if I look bad, here...

Friday- Prenatal clinic at Tabon Tabon today, and I got to do all of the prenatal exams! Felt babies kick for the first time (when I poked at them with my ultrasound wand…they don’t like that!), God they’re strong. It was cool getting to do all of them, saying hi to the mums and being responsible for something myself, haha. Went back to the massage place for another $10, hour-long full-body massage aaaaah feeling so good now! Then finally, in the evening, we drank tuba and coke under the stars with some of the staff from VFV until we were too tired to stay awake. Said goodbye to the 5 volunteers who are leaving today, people I’ve been with every day for the last three and a half weeks!

Saturday- Supposed to help at another volunteer’s project, the community garden, but it’s far away, I have no clean socks or bug spray, and I have no outdoor clothes since everything’s being washed! Might help out tomorrow, instead.

That’s all for now, folks! I’m so looking forward to coming home and seeing everyone once I’m done this adventure. Thank you for all your support, and it was awesome talking to you yesterday, Auntie Brenda J Safe travels to your new life in Jamaica!

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