If I had to sum up HYC Philippines in 5 words, it will be: Growth, Maturity, Spirituality, Gifts and Gratefulness.
This past youth corps has been an emotional roller coaster. I spent the first half of the year saving up for this trip and the other half, imagining its sights and scenes.
I went for my first youth corps when I was 17, in Chennai, India.
At that time, I was not very mature. Though I had much zeal, I was lacking in knowledge. I went there with a few of my best friends, expecting a good time, not expecting the way this trip would impact my life, more than I could imagine.
Moving on 2 years later, I thus decided to go on another youth corps. This time, alone. I was not with my best friends, and I made the choice to step out of my comfort zone. It was exciting to prepare for the trip, as I read the book of Luke, putting my heart through several rounds of hard questioning. I wanted to make sure my intentions were right and pure. I wanted to be able to give my 110% and leave Philippines without any regrets.
The first few days of the trip was tough as I battled insecurities of leading my own d-group, striving to be a servant as Jesus was, and being outwardly focused. I remember doing my quiet time on the first day about Jesus calming the storm in Luke 9:22, and I was reminded that on this boat through the stormy seas, Jesus is in it with me.
There are many things I have learnt on this trip but I would like to emphasize just one.
We were tasked to build a house in 3 days. Yes, a house.
It was cool to actually pick up a nail and a hammer and attempt to hold it all together. I say attempt, because half the time I was failing miserably, and needed to call for reinforcements. But Amen, God looks at the heart.
We had the privilege of spending three and a half days with Kuya (older brother in Tagalog) Renaldo, and his family (His wife, Ate Gazelle and his 3 children Jairo, Micky and Meljohn). We cooked with them, ate with them and set off for their home as early as 8.30 in the morning, leaving only when the sun had begun to set.
Kuya Renaldo’s family was one of the many families affected by Typhoon Haiyan. The typhoon had swept away their entire home. They had nowhere to go, living in the streets for a period of time, eventually settling at Renaldo’s mother in law’s place, already home to 5 other family members.
I spent a huge amount of my time playing with the kids and it was hard not to choose between favorites. The one kid that completely stole my heart was Ginny Rose.
Ginny, Ate Gazelle’s niece, is the most joyful 2 year old ever! She has the sweetest smile and I grew attached to her immediately. Her father was a cheat and had left her, her mother and her 3 month old brother for another woman.
I was drawn to her as I felt empathetic, instinctively desiring to protect her and making sure she grew up well. She would always run towards me when she saw me and fell asleep in my arms during lunch.
We had to say goodbye to Kuya Renaldo’s family on the 4th day, and we bought them presents because it was Christmas. We got all the children toys, a few clothing items as well as groceries for the rest of the family. I have never seen happier kids, literally screaming at the sight of their new toys, opening their eyes wide as they smiled from ear to ear.
The family was extremely grateful for the groceries and Ate Gazelle even cried when she received our gifts.
The most heartbreaking yet comforting thing to hear from Kuya Renaldo’s son, Micky, on the last day was “Ma, we have a house! Our house is so beautiful”
As I think about this experience, I feel extremely emotional. It was hard to say goodbye to this family, who trusted us with building their house and their children.
Going for this HYC was truly a stage of growth for me as I reevaluate my priorities and the things in my life that make me happy. So many times on the trip I caught myself being self-righteous and prideful. Back home I take my family for granted and complicate life.
It comforts me to know that as much as I do worry for Kuya Renaldo’s family, and love them to bits, God loves them more.
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
I love that God’s grace renews for me daily because I know that I need his grace so badly. Through this HYC, my biggest take away is that it’s not the big steps that matter most but the baby steps that help you progress.
2016 is upon us, and I don’t know what God has in store for me. What I do know is that He loves me and will take care of me.
As I sit comfortably on my queen size bed and type all these things I am forced to remember that my journey is just about to begin. I want to live every day and do everything that will bring glory to God, where my treasures are stored in heaven. Even if these treasures in heaven do not exist, I will still seize the day, and make the days count! Carpe Diem!
I am still as imperfect as before. But I know that I’ll be living out the spirit of HYC daily, no matter where I am. I will love my family and do my best not to take them for granted, and I am back to be the change I want to see.
The team at Sonja Kill Memorial Hospital recently celebrated its 5 year anniversary. SKMH opened in April 2012 with the mission to meet the needs of poor children and women of Southern Cambodia. It is managed by HOPE worldwide . Since its opening, nearly 50,000 patients have been touched by the team. On May 26, the hospital honored 31 employees who have served since the hospital’s opening day. Through the dedication of its staff and supporters, SKMH has seen tremendous growth. Since its opening, the hospital has accomplished the following:
· More than 140,000 patient consultations with nearly 50,000 new patients
· 71% of visits have been for women and children
· Nearly 800 children have been born at the hospital since the opening of the Maternity building in November 2014
· 7 Cambodian doctors have graduated from three year hospital training program.
· Currently employs over 180 people
· The Neo Natal Intensive care unit opened November 2015. To date the NICU has served 49 children
· Centralized Medical Gas System for NICU and campus opened in November 2016.
· Surgical department opened in 2015
· Surgical team has performed over 360 surgeries in 2016, not including C-Sections. 86 surgeries have been for children
· Blood bank opened in August 2016
· A Learning Center for children of hospital staff opened on June 12
Sonja Kill Memorial Hospital has been blessed with international support from medical and administrative partners as well as volunteers from around the world to serve and teach. The local Cambodian staff continues to grow and serves as the primary patient care providers.
The team is grateful for all the support that has been given this past five years; however, there remains more to do. Future development includes the addition of a CT scan, upgraded X-ray diagnostic equipment, continued development of staff training programming and pursuit of international accreditations. Please consider how you can make a difference at the Sonja Kill Memorial Hospital. Go to https://www.hopeww.org/donate . Use the drop down box and select Sonja Kill Memorial Hospital. If you wish to learn more about the Sonja Kill Memorial Hospital, please visit www.skmh.org .
Dr. Rin Receiving the Empathy Amplified AwardClick here to watch .
Jenny Harkabus spent Christmas serving in the Philippines. She wrote this, and also made a short video:
I did not imagine that I would be spending Christmas in the Philippines for my first HOPE Youth Corps experience. This opportunity has deeply changed my perspective on the importance of service in my daily walk.
We are created in God's image, therefore we are meant to help and serve others. I know this to be true because I have never felt so used by God and fulfilled, than the times spent serving and pouring out my love in the Philippines.
James 1:27 says, " Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." Some translations refer to this as true religion. The bible also stresses the importance of giving to the poor (1 John 3:17, Matt 9:21, Proverbs 14:31). God considers caring for the poor and orphans as true religion, yet this can be an area of faith that is overlooked.
I was privileged to spend time with girls who have experienced trauma and abuse at the HOPE worldwide center in Laguna. Many of these girls have been separated from their families, becoming orphans, as a result of the abuse they have experienced. I also received the opportunity to play with children within the community as we rebuilt their homes and provided them with medical care. I witnessed the children’s precious value for human relationships, as they clung to me emotionally and physically. They showed me instant love and respect, which I find to be rare in today’s society. Our focus should be about investing in others just as the children in the Philippines invested in me.