Swannies – Day 7

(From the eyes of the teacher)
Dear Parents,

Your loving children / developing adolescents are all still alive!!! But seriously, they are going amazing! They are blowing us away with their desire to develop genuine relationships with the people of Porak Bangkal. They have shown superb character in some reasonably tough situations.

I can confirm the following, every student has now hand washed their own underwear, so you can officially expect more of them around the house!!!

The day has been an absolute blur.

We bussed back into the community, which is about a 10-minute drive out from the centre of Sagay. Kauswagan (our accommodation) is literally out the back of the City Hall. We start everyday with a pack of young, screaming Bangkalians waiting for our bus. When we arrive in the community we walk down a dried mud road (which at times is knee deep mud that the children have to traverse to get to school). As we are walking everyday we pass a house, which is just slightly better than the rest. Today we discovered that this house has established a business preserving Sea Cucumbers. They do not make a lot of money by even most Filipino’s standards, but the work of one Grandmother provides for 3 generations to eat and go to school. It is nice to see the outworking of what we are trying to achieve for more families within the community.

We needed more washing, so that was another job for the day. We sat and scrubbed our clothes. This often meant that one of the kids from the community would help us by washing our unmentionables in front of 30 other members of the community.

Some of the girls were on squid drying, which meant gutting, cleaning and hanging before they were smoked and dried a little more. I believe we will be sampling those on Monday! If the dried fish is anything to go on, we will enjoy the fruits of our labour! And by enjoy, I mean, I will enjoy them and most of the kids will comment on their desire not to eat the eyes! (Not sure Sea Cucumber will ever make the Pitman dinner table though!)

We have also finished the rubbish pit! It was a huge job, we dug about a metre or so through an old coral bed and into the clay, it involved a lot of pick-axing and digging. I can also confirm there are now a bunch or girls and boys with new-found shovel skills, so you can get them gardening too!

The day ended with some cultural experiences, which included a tricycle ride through Sagay and the eating of some interesting local delights. Chicken intestine and chicken feet inasal (bbq’d) and Balut. Balut is a cooked, fertilised, duck egg; 14 days fertilised to be precise. We had a bunch of brave girls who had a crack (pun intended) and even had an adventurous Emily Phillips declare her love for Balut!

A long, hard, hot day! Also an emotional day, as we have started to wear a little thin, but we are looking forward to a rest day tomorrow before we reach the last day in Porak Bangkal.

Thanks for lending us your children! They have excelled and I’m sure they will carry this experience for many years to come! Hopefully maybe carry it back here in future years!

Mr Pitman

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