Greetings from Manila,
Sorry I have not posted recently, it’s been a crazy three days. Aside from suffering through the jet lag and the intense humidity, being at the Tuloy Foundation has been an amazing experience so far.
My first day at the orphanage involved meeting the other volunteers who I will be working with. I am working directly with a student from the University of Richmond, and the other three volunteers come from Singapore and Alabang, Philippines. They are all around twenty years old so it is nice to have some students here to interact with that are my age. After meeting the volunteers, we were given a tour of the facilities by one of the students at the foundation. We were able to see the culinary school, the chapel, dormitories, football field (no, not american football), Aquaponics system, gymnasium, and administrative meeting rooms. We were introduced to all of the staff members here who were all extremely welcoming and grateful to have us help them out this summer.
Kylie and I began working on our main projects the second day at the Tuloy Foundation. Our main duties involve creating a general manual for future volunteers to help instruct them on how to create, organize and lead various educational clinics. In addition, come next week, we will be interviewing graduates of the Tuloy Foundation to assess their success after leaving and entering the work force. Once we interview them, Kylie and I will analyze the data and create educational programs that will hopefully teach current students how to handle the problems they will experience once they leave the orphanage. In our free time, we have been playing football and basketball with the students as well as learning more about Filipino Culture.
Here are some of my first impressions of the foundation:
- The students are extremely well behaved and proper. They greet any visitors in english and tagalog and are very open to learning more about you and your background. They follow very strict rules and schedules and have an honest and burning passion for learning. They are also pretty good at football for such a young age.
- The facilities are in great condition. I was not expecting to see very modern and state of the art building and equipment for the students, but Father Rocky, the founder of the Tuloy Foundation, believes that in order to receive the best education and opportunities, you should have the best facilities you can obtain. In fact, Father Rocky has told us that the Board of Trustee Members have suggested intentionally making the place look worse than it actually is in order to obtain more donations from benefactors. However, Father Rocky is very proud of these facilities and believes that just because it is an orphanage for street children does not mean the facilities need to be shoddy.
- The staff members have so much knowledge to share. At the Tuloy Foundation, you are surrounded by adults who come from all walks of life whether that be business, science, religion, or are retired volunteers. Their unique backgrounds allow you to learn about the different perspectives of life and reflect on who you are and what you choose to do with your life.
The most amazing component of the foundation has been its strict adherence to it’s mission statement. Everything they do revolves around teaching the students to be independent, hard working, and successful members of society. It’s extremely admirable.
The Gymnasium at the Tuloy Foundation
A portion of the aquaponics centers at the foundation.
On the lighter more fun side, I’ve eaten a lot of great food! So far I have gotten to try lanzones, pig knuckles, pansit, traditional ramen, fresh mango, chicken adobo, white cheese ice cream, mango smoothies, and many other great dishes.
The weather here is a bit rough. We are entering the rainy season and it is about 90 degrees fahrenheit every day, but the real killer is the humidity.
Driving here is a scene I can’t even begin to explain. It is the most organized chaos you will ever see, it’s quite remarkable.
Tonight I went to a Ballet Recital at the Cultural Center of the Philippines to see Academy One preform their annual recital. Between 12-14 Tuloy Students were given scholarships to join this academy and we all came out to support them. It was a great night to see that these children are still able to use their talent even after coming from such harsh backgrounds.
Fountain outside of the Cultural Center of the Philippines
Performance stage inside the Cultural Center of the Philippines
I will make sure to keep you all updated about my adventures!