The Philippines, no matter how crazy of a place it is, will always have my heart.
Having grown up there for nearly half my life, it explains some of my peculiar habits. Habits such as talking like an American, pointing with my lips, raising my eyebrows instead of saying yes with my mouth, going into a crazy Filipino accent when I get a little excited and the list goes on.
Six months today, on November 8, the Philippines experienced one of its deadliest typhoon on record, Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan. It hit particularly close to home not only taking place in the Philippines but also personally having survived the tsunami in Japan in 2011. The haunting images looked all too familiar.
So when the opportunity came up to travel to Leyte, I could not refuse! The Center for Change, a community where orphans and children at risk are housed, clothed, educated and cared for, was hit hard by the typhoon. Over these past six months, they have been undergoing a project to rebuild their houses and surrounding community. I had the opportunity to document their progress and assess their needs.
I also had the honor to deliver 80+ blankets to the kids which were hand made by Japanese tsunami survivors who are part of a group called Yarn Alive. These ladies who lost everything have gathered together on a weekly basis to knit and crochet. They have received enormous generosity from those within Japan and around the world. So one of their core values is to "Give as freely as you have received".
Although I felt like I was going to pass out from the scorching heat, these kids jumped for joy when they saw these blankets and wrapped themselves in them. It wasn't heat that they felt, it was love :-) Come December, when the weather is cooler, these blankets will give the physical warmth that they need.
It's been 22 years since I was last in Tacloban but it definitely will not take that long to return!