We were back on windows making today with Evelyn but this time we spent the first half hour or so simply sorting out a cover for our working area which did made life under the scorching Sun just that little bit better. We felt no cooler perhaps but we were just more out of the direct sunlight which as the supermarket says ‘every little helps’ and stopped us seeing mirages too!
We had learnt the harsh lessons of yesterday and spent a good deal more time measuring and rechecking our measurements whilst making the windows and although we were a fair bit slower, as we still had to put right errors of the previous day, by and large the windows we made were there or thereabouts in terms of quality. That is not to say that Mitch did not have to make some adjustments but these were less so and sometimes even these were simply because the wood was out of square – hoorah were we becoming Joiners at last!
There being not much more to be said about the day work-wise means I can perhaps tell you a little bit more about the Barangay itself. The kids, if I was back home, I would say they were scruffy but clean and without exception each has black hair, dark eyes and the whitest of teeth and a smile to melt the hardest of hearts.
Even during my worst of times trying to work when not feeling great (and I honestly think this would be the same for every one of us who worked there) and even if you had no energy to keep pushing the wheelbarrow or to carry a bag of rubble you still always found the time and energy to play a bit of hide and seek or lift a child and give them a swing or for the very youngest even give just a simple hello. This, to me anyhow, was the beauty of All Hands, that although it was regimented and got more than its fair share of effort out of all the people who worked there, it also allowed the volunteers there to enjoy the moment too and these were often of more medicinal help than any pills or painkillers we could have been given. The Barangay these people lived in was like a rabbit warren with loads of intertwining passages. Most of the houses were quite poorly made from the same wood we had been using and there was a lot of corrugated iron used for walls or roofing but they were far, very far, from being typhoon-proof.
Down their main ‘street’ anything and everything was being sold, such as it was and if our (UK) Health and Safety or Food Standards Agencies saw some of the premises and activities being carried out I am quite sure a lot of places would have been shut down permanently. One of the families being helped by All Hands and I pick this family both as it is a most poignant story but also because both me and Liz actually worked on their site. The Espino ‘family’ was simply a family of children as we saw it, the mother and the father had left the kids and called it a day leaving them almost on their own. Looking after them were their Grandparents and these were old, old folks. The old guy spent a lot of time on a small stool watching us work on the foundations, I think he was still a little amazed by what he was seeing. One of the kids had somethings seriously wrong so the older kids had to take turns looking after them but also All Hands had come to the rescue here and were paying for the older kids to go to school. I have no idea of the support system in place in the Philippines but I am used to seeing motorised devices for English ‘disabled’ (and I must add here not all these people are fully deserving to even be called disabled) so know we try to help the disabled, in the Philippines however if you have no use of your limbs say for example your legs you have an old fashioned bath chair which you peddle with your hands and this way these people seem to keep their self respect too. The pavements and buildings do nothing to help out here as nothing is disability friendly but everyone seems to muck in and no-one in a ‘chair’ is too proud to accept help but because of their chairs they are also ‘independent’ – no idea how this would be accepted at home but to trial it would definitely be an eye-opener!
The day was a scorcher as are most around this time of year in the Philippines but the work was not overly exhausting so all in all we had a much more productive day. I was staring to feel at my best again, if a little achy and after tea even managed to have a beer or two. The nightly meeting had brought punishment – in the form of washing up for everyone – for Anton, Mitch and Kevin. As we were in the communal room chatting one of them would come out and turn up the music, then after a while more and more people would enter the kitchen and the music increase in grooviness. Then we saw people dancing in the kitchen through a window, first with and then after a while without their tops on. It was at this point that my wife decided she had to go and investigate (or join in). So, long story made short, there we all were bouncing around to various music – it was an absolute blast and then our Weddings song – Aerosmith, Don’t want to miss a thing came on. I told the assembled that it was ‘our song’ and that we had been married for 13 years so they got me and Liz to re-create our wedding dance whilst they proceeded to dance round us topless rubbing their sweaty bodies over ours – a bit reminiscent of our actual wedding day really! Sob! (lol).