Philippine Self-Help Foundation


A Bittersweet Story

Posted on April 12, 2014 at 4:10 AM

"I was lucky enough to volunteer with PSHF during my Chinese New Year break at the school I teach at in Shanghai, China. Richard is a childhood friend of my Mum & Uncle and he was gracious enough to allow me to volunteer with his organization.


I volunteered with Marlene, a girl I'd met through a friend while she was visiting Shanghai in November of 2013. She was going to be in the Philippines for about two months and I put her in contact with Richard who graciously invited her to volunteer as well.


I was met at the airport by Ireen who runs the Bohol office of PSHF. She's a happy, energetic lady who made me feel welcome & at home right away.


The first day I was in Bohol, Ireen & I went to Catigbian to visit some families and hand out clothes to the children. Now I'd heard about the earthquake that occurred on October 15th, 2013, but I can't tell you how different it is seeing it in person verses on television. The destruction is heartbreaking: families's homes are gone, some have absolutely nothing left. We take so much for granted back home in Canada, America, wherever we may be from, and here are these families with nothing anymore. Yet the most amazing thing is to see their energy and outlook: they aren't hiding out crying about what's been lost, they are happy they're alive; they are happy they have each other; they are happy to see us as we are a sign of hope - they have not been forgotten.


One family that stood out to me was one we met on my last field day in Bohol. They'd lost their 14-year-old daughter who had gone to her school on her day off to give in some paperwork to her teacher. This girl was a smart, kind girl who was adored by all in her neighbourhood. On the morning of the earthquake, she had awoken her family, telling them to eat the breakfast she'd made and that she was going to her school - she woke up her whole family. A few hours later the earthquake occurred and sadly she was caught in the destruction and didn't make it out of the school. What is the most touching thing about this story is that she saved her family: the fact that she woke them up before she left saved them as their bedrooms were destroyed in the earthquake. Had she not, her Mother would still be alive but would have lost her three children and husband - I find this heart wrenching and it is such a bittersweet story.


Meeting all the families I did and hearing their stories straight from them touches you like no news story can. It makes you think, reflect and appreciate so much more about your own life. PSHF is a great organization that is personable and wants to help as many people as they can. I only hope I can visit & volunteer again one day."

Natasha Aird

2 April 2014

Categories: Visitors