206 Student Services Building
1 Campus Drive
Allendale, MI 49401
Employer: Volunteer for the Visayans
Description of the Organization
Volunteer for the Visions is a non-profit, non-governmental agency. It is located in the middle region of the Philippines called Visayas in the city of Tacloban. It was started in 2004 by a few men who traveled to the Philippines and simply fell in love with the area. They saw the tremendous amount of need and decided to start an organization. The organization focuses on community development, child welfare, education, and improving the lives of everyone in the area. It coordinates with many local agencies to provide placements for the volunteers. Different placements include teaching English, working in health clinics, working on build-a-home projects, working in orphanages or special education centers, a nutrition project, and at night all the volunteers help with after-school tutorials for the children in the Baranguay, or housing project.
Description of the Tasks/Projects Completed
Most of my time spent in the Philippines, I worked in a rural health clinic in the city of Tolosa. While I was there, I basically had the job of a nurse. I would attempt to translate all of the symptoms into English from their local dialect of Waray-waray. Also, I would chart the patient's weight, height, blood pressure, temperature, heart rate, and respiratory rate. After my skills progressed, I was allowed to watch and assist the doctor with suturing wounds and was taught how to take a fetal heart rate. I was also trained in giving immunizations and was able to put these skills to use a few times. On days the clinic did not have as many patients, I would assist at other projects coordinated through Volunteer for the Visayans. I helped teach 5th and 6th grade English and was able to work at the Special Education center for a few days. Another placement I helped at was the nutrition project which focused on teaching the Filipino Mother's healthy ways to cook inexpensive meals and educated them what constitutes a healthy diet. Each day, we cooked a meal for 20 to 30 children and mothers. I was also able to attend the build-a-home project which was very labor intensive. Volunteer for Visayans has a wide range of placements. This is what makes this organization so truly amazing. No matter what major, what you are interested in, there is a place for you to grow, learn, and appreciate the Filipino Culture while giving back.
Skills/Knowledge Gained Through The Experience
I gained a wide range of skills while in the Philippines. I gained technical skills in the clinic. More specifically how to take all the vitals and the proper procedures for suturing or how to conduct a prenatal check up. However, I feel more importantly I learned how to interact with people from a different culture, how to be respectful to them, and how to interact with people who don't speak the same language as me. Working in the clinic was truly amazing, however I feel that I learned more just simply talking to the people and learning from their life experiences. Filipino people are so open and willing to share with you that is was extremely easy to soak up all the culture possible while I was there. Even just walking down the street, someone would ask you your name, or where your from, and thank you for coming to their country and volunteering. Their generosity, hospitality, and graciousness was breathtaking.
Favorite Part of the Experience
My favorite part of my experience in the Philippines was living with a Filipino family. This gave me an inside view of what it truly means to be Filipino. It allowed me to see up close all of their traditions and culture. I was able to cook with our nanny, or mother, I helped teach English to Miko the 5 year old son of the family, I helped clean the house with Jacklyn as a teenage Filipino girl would, and I sang karaoke (Filipino's favorite pastime) with Kuya (brother) Jeff. It is required by Volunteer for the Visayans to stay with a Filipino family; this is most definitely one of the strong points of this organization. Living with a family gives you such a stronger connection to the people. I had my own family there that I knew was looking after me and cared for me. At the end saying goodbye, I did truly feel as if I was saying goodbye to a brother or a mother.
How the Experience Influenced Future Career Goals
This experience greatly influenced and reinforced my future career goals to work with the under served population. Seeing the immense poverty that literally spanned the entire country furthered my passion and care for under served people especially those of another culture. I love learning the intricacies of another culture and intertwining their values into my own life. There is so much to learn from other cultures and I think it is very important, especially in the health field, to recognize these differences and respect them in order to provide the finest care possible.
All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of GVSU.
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