You get what you give…
The Rise Above Foundation
In December 2017, I booked a flight to the Philippines - after having left university, and somewhere in between the struggle of finding a job; not really knowing what I want to do with the rest of my life. I started spending more time researching how I could make a difference, and hopped on the plane off to Cebu City. But it wasn't in the middle of one of the busiest cities in South-East Asia that I landed - No, I landed in a place that was nowhere to be found on Google Maps. A place where hundreds of one-room concrete houses - often without roof - are lined up to form a labyrinth of tiny dark alleyways. A place that is home to the hundreds of children of Sambag Dos. Neighbours only a footstep away, more than 400 children share their homes with sometimes up to 10 family members. Having one hot meal a day is far away from reality for many of them.
In the middle of it all, the Rise Above Foundation has set up what is their community centre - a local organisation striving to help improve the quality of life for the poor and underprivileged by providing educational opportunities, livelihood training, and health and hygiene programs. The underprivileged children, many of them never been to school, come here to learn and play - their parents just not in the position to supply their kids with opportunities like this one, plainly because of poverty. It is so thrilling to see the excitement in these kids when they join in on the activities - Some of the most rewarding moments for me. I grew close to the children when I spent my month in the centre in 2017 and knew at the time that the children of Sambag II will always have a special place in my heart. They're the most friendly people I've ever encountered - they give off such a happiness, being it in the city or the more separated slum area, where, sometimes, people do not have anything but themselves and their families, which are, more often than not, even torn apart as many mothers have been left on their own by their partners or an illness or unfortunate event caused a family member to pass away.
In 2017, I came to Cebu with time, energy and dedication. What I took back home with me was not only new friendships and another stamp on my passport; no, I took along a whole suitcase full of emotions and memories of a wonderful experience.