Day 4 began with a 7.30 breakfast, and the announcement our group would be split into two for the morning. Group one would be visiting the local schools, and group two would be working in the IRC community.
Group one walked to the local primary school near the Beulah Land Accommodation. Many smiling children excited to see their new guests greeted us. After a brief introduction the children sang a good morning song and gathered into seven groups to play the Australian animal relay game. By the help of their leaders, each of the children bounced like a kangaroo and ran like an emu. After teaching them a few Australian worship songs the children taught us a song they knew as we danced along with them. We continued with an assortment of fun activities such as blowing bubbles and making balloon animals. After our short visit, we walked to the local elementary school a few minutes away, constantly greeted by warm smiles and waves of the local people as we walked by. At the elementary school we split into groups of two and were divided into different classes to teach and play with them children. We taught the Filipino students about Australia and the slang we use, also getting them to teach us some of their language as well. Although most were shy, all of the students were intrigued by the use of balloons and pipe cleaners to make animals and friendship bracelets. Their respectful and happy nature made it a fun and enjoyable experience for the people in the group.
Group two arrived at the IRC community at 9am, and got to work making bottles of spiced vinegar sauce to sell to the community. We peeled ginger (luy-a), turmeric (langkawas), and garlic (ahos), before adding them to glass bottles with chili (katumbal), and vinegar (lang-gaw). Once we completed this, we went out into the village center to sell them. Once we arrived, we put our marketing skills to the test, attempting to sell each bottle for roughly 40 pesos, the equivalent to $1.15. We successfully sold all the bottles, and made 440 pesos ($12.85), which will allow the community, to buy much needed food and supplies.
After lunch the groups united to work at the sugar fields. Locals get paid 100 pesos, roughly $3, for a whole day’s work. We raked the harvested field to scatter the remaining leaves before setting it alight. The experience was physically demanding, as we left with blisters, scratches, and aching muscles. One hour and a half’s work would have earned us 75c each.
We then headed straight to the local river, where we got to work washing our clothes, a surprisingly fun experience. As a reward for our hard work we were able to swim in the crystal clear, picturesque, man-made dam. After an early dinner we walked down to the community church, where we were welcomed with song and dance, and a few members of our group: Lachlan, Lewis, and Nathan, shared their testimony. Elorah and Siobhan sang a beautiful rendition of Waltzing Matilda. At the conclusion of the official ceremony, we began to assist the church in creating food packages to give to the community, a direct result of Ellenbrook Christian College’s fundraising. Once this was complete we spent time socializing and connecting with the community, before debriefing and heading back to our beds.
Rachel and Toni