Kane and Fraser here, to be honest, we haven’t read any of the other blogs, therefore we have no idea how they’ve gone about writing them. We’re going to take a reflective, personal approach on the day and its events. Today presented the bitter taste of reality as the community’s smiles brought us all to tears.
The day began with Beacham banging on our door and waking up at 7:20am. Minotti, our doorman, was nowhere to be seen. Breakfast was our usual selection of rice, egg, banana and pineapple (can’t have a meal here without it). We were amused by Vanessa’s classic comments and memes, they really get us going in the morning. Today was Angeneth’s birthday, everyone singing happy birthday brought her to tears. The spontaneous bus karaoke commenced as usual on the way to Bulanon High School.
As we arrived at Bulanon, the students welcomed us with a performance of drums and baton twirling. It seemed as though we were celebrities as everyone was hanging over balconies and pushing others just to see us. We had hardly made it through the gate and every ten metres we were stopped for selfies. Once we visited the principal out of an act of cultural respect, we split up into small groups, separating into a different range of classrooms and year groups. It was interesting to see how the grade tens were seventeen and eighteen like most of us. In the groups, we introduced ourselves individually and taught them Australian slang and just general information about our country and its animals. They took more selfies and asked us questions about ourselves. Kane was asked if he was single, he replied yes, all the girls screamed along with the one gay guy who asked where could he apply. I (Kane) felt our time spent there was too short. The band played again as we exited the school.
We arrived in Purok Bangkal to see the road had turned to mud from last night’s torrential downpour. It was slightly heartbreaking to see how easily it was destroyed and how the community have to deal with that when it often rains. A man named Jon Jon who had helped us build the road in previous days gave us some news that his child was stillborn. This news hit us hard and it was surprising to see how he was still smiling and seemed as this was a normal thing to happen.
House visits were next, everyone split into their groups and bared a dish of food to a house each. Then everyone squeezed into the tiny wood shacks and asked personal questions about each of the families lives and situations. Today was different as we were able to bond more with the community instead of spending the majority of the day working on the road. We feasted away on everybody’s favourite, except for the vegans lol, chicken on a stick. Time with the community involved, volleyball, balloon making, tickle wars, karate chopping, basketball and deep conversations followed by a few tears. Although we all knew that it was last day to spend with our new family, everyone still had massive smiles on their faces. Everyone began to capture memories for ourselves and our buddies on polaroid cameras, some people wrote and others received letters.
The time had come, we had to leave Purok Bangkal, tears were flowing as we slowly made our way down the unfinished and torn up road. Some of us gave our shoes and other various gifts to the kids that we had come closest too so that they would have something that would remind them of our time together.
A little boy named Jerim held my hand and followed me around the past few days. His smile was too big and out of proportion for his face. Carrying my backpack on the walk to the bus at the end of each day the kid never stopped smiling when he looked at me. His eyes filled with wonder, innocence, and hope. Today was different though, as the feeling hit hard when we realised we had to leave, it felt like the last day of year twelve again. Some, if not most of these people you would never see again; and after an amazing week of joy, my heart broke. Being the manly man I am, ha, I uncontrollably began to cry.
The long walk of silence and sniffles endured and we all walked down the muddy road to the bus. With my hand on Jerim’s shoulder, he smiled up at me every time I looked down at him. It was only once we reached the bus, everyone hugged and boarded, tears were everywhere. Looking out the window of the bus, in the sea of crying and moaning children, Jerim was there looking at me in tears, the first time I saw him not crying.
It pains me a lot to face the fact that in reality, life is not fair, and what we’ve done on this trip is amazing, but just a drop in the ocean. I don’t know what will happen to Jerim, will he be there if I ever return, will he get a proper education, etc.
Anyways, I guess that was a personal story that broke me. (Kane)
Dinner with the scholars then came, and we all feasted and partied to the usual Zumba and dance tunes. Finally tonight we got some real karaoke happening after Ryan downed thirty balout eggs, breaking the previous record of twenty-seven.
We said our final goodbyes and left.
Now sat in this hotel, I finish writing this at 12:16am, so please enjoy the great sentences we put together.
Cheers for reading today’s blog, and shout out to the birthday girl, my mum (on the 30th).