I’m Heading to The Philippines to Shovel Mud

Flooding in Cagayan De Oro

My beloved disaster volunteering organisation, All Hands Volunteers, has just announced a project in Cagayan de Oro after a typhoon struck in mid December causing flooding, 1,200 deaths (with lots of people still missing) and destroying or damaging over 50,000 homes.

I’d been watching their website closely since they sent an assessment team a few weeks ago. My inside source told me that there was a less than 50% chance of a project being announced so, while I was watching, I wasn’t giving too much thought to actually going. But a couple days ago a project was announced and I’ll be heading to The Philippines on February 4th for a month of muddy work. Amazingly, I found a flight all the way to Manila from Kigali for under $900 and another flight down to Cagayan de Oro for about GBP30. Bargain!

I spent a couple years following All Hands around the world but last year I only got to work with them for two weeks in Haiti. I had hoped to go to Japan but my parents were concerned about the nuke plant and radiation and strongly asked me not to go. For once, I listened to their concerns but I felt a bit sad missing that project. I’m looking really forward to seeing a bunch of old friends and it’ll be so great to get back into the disaster volunteering scene after too long of a break.

I’ve been to The Philippines before for five weeks about 4 years ago and it’s one of my favourite countries. It’ll be great to visit again and it’ll be really fun to get involved in the community in Cagayan de Oro rather than just passing through as a tourist. I’ll only be back in Rwanda for a month before leaving for The Philippines which seems a bit too short, but I guess that’s just the way things go! It’s nice to feel like Kigali is a base for me that I can leave and return to.

So I’ll arrive in Manila on February 5th and leave on March 11th. I really love this kind of work. Shovel and wheelbarrowing mud and rubble around has before some kind of sick obsession. It’s a damn fine fitness regime, that’s for sure!

If  you’re travelling in the area and want to help people, meet and work with Filipinos and volunteers from all over the world, get muddy and have an amazing experience, check out their project page and send your application.

About Kirsty