Flying. Most everyone seems to appreciate that feeling of loftiness – no strings attached, no obligations to attend to: freedom.
Part of the reason I volunteered in the Philippines after Typhoon Yolanda (Internationally known as, Haiyan) was to lay things aside: a slow-growing business, deadlines, the internet, even friends and family. Of course, we always take some of this with us wherever we go, but now and then, a significant break is warranted. On this particular break, I wanted to fly – to get away, to hop on airplanes around the world, to redistribute my efforts into something physical and tangible.
The funny thing is, volunteering is hard work – laborious and exhausting and not like a break at all – but so incredibly freeing. I recommend it.
"Learn to love without condition. Talk without bad intention. Give without any reason. And most of all, care for people without any expectation."
Volunteering in a post-disaster area means difficult living conditions, sweat, a little blood, and probably a few tears, too – knowing that the communities we were helping had no way to repay us. With All Hands Volunteers on the Island of Leyte in the Philippines, difficult living meant that 50-60 people from around the world shared two toilets; lived in tents – or a hospital that we repaired, or a house that was mildly retrofitted for our needs. Showers of bamboo frames with tarps for privacy were complete with a bucket of cold water and a sunset view out the back over a rice paddy.
Difficult, but beyond rewarding.
I love lucky shots–like snapping a boy's joy midair or a motion-blurred kid on a bicycle from the top of our Jeepney as we drove by. This window in time captures the rewarding part of our work in the Philippines – the free flying part. Smiles from people in the communities where we worked, children eager for playtime, working along side the Filipino people, and the ever-growing list of completed projects always kept our group going. Sometimes these things only amounted to a few minutes each day, but the gratitude of people around us and these moments of celebration and fun made our hard work more meaningful – unexpected repayment and graceful memories that we carried with us in our work.
These photos capture the absolute joy of our work.
For more information about my work in the Philippines, please check out my blog: All Hands 4 Andrea.
Unless noted, all images and content © 2014 - 2018 The Earth Ink | Andrea Rip