Today was a rough one.
Every year at L2L, team members are invited to “live like a local” for a day. Our food and water levels were restricted, 3 measly portions of rice or lugaw (a wet and sloppy rice porridge dish) all we were given to sustain ourselves through the long day. Many people just stuck with rice but it was an interesting experience going through the day on just lugaw for sure.
After our first portion we got to visit the Special Education School L2L is partnered up with in La Carlota for the second time. Some team members were invited to join classrooms; reading stories as well as colouring in with the kids. Their cute smiles and boundless energy gave a spark to members who were otherwise severely lacking energy from the lack of food (and sleep in some cases.) Others were given the task of toiling away in the hot sun, scrubbing down the flowerbeds and benches of the school yard to prepare them for painting tomorrow. One cute moment came when a 9 year old kid from the school decided to join me in scrubbing. Simple pointing and gesturing meant the language barrier was quickly overcome, we became the super team that simultaneously were the worst and most inefficient team in the world. But at least we had fun ;).
From there we moved on to lunch, you guessed it, mooooorrrrreeeee Lugaw. After choking it down (ok I’m being overdramatic, its actually not that bad), we had our first chance to wash our clothes. And for those who didn’t read the last blog about our farming experience, they needed a wash badly. A bucket of water, slab of laundry soap and good old-fashioned elbow grease was all we had to get out stains that cannot be described in any words that I’d be allowed to say on this blog.
Next, we were rushed onto the truck to travel back to brother Ed’s farm. While yesterday we were involved in harvesting, deshelling and planting, today we were involved in teenager’s worst nightmare, weeding. Hoes, shovels and the occasional machete were doled out to everyone and we spent two hours pulling out weeds that were seemingly identical to the sugarcane plants. Helpful farm workers were on hand to assist and laugh at us as we tripped and stumbled through what seems like a simple task but turned out to be nigh impossible to do without gaining the scorn of our overseers.
But, perhaps the most important part of our day was our visit to the workers houses. We got to have a true experience of what it is like to live in a place as destitute as this. It was a shocking experience which opened up many of our eyes to the blessed life we live.
We finished the night with, you guessed it, more lugaw and a lesson in the Filipino martial arts of Arnis. In Arnis you use a stick to fight against your opponent, fortunately we were given padded sticks that are used with beginners. After leaning some of the basics we were taught how to disarm someone that is coming at you with a stick.
This trip has been a wonderful experience so far and I can’t wait for the rest.
James Clark, MCC.