Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Finding Joy in Helping People

UMCOR Philippines volunteers build temporary shelters for the Navotas community in the northwestern part of Manila whose homes were demolished two years ago. Photo: UMCOR Philippines

By Clinton Bonghanoy*

On June 22, 2012, I was invited by the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to go to Navotas fish port complex, the largest fish port in Southeast Asia. I had never been to Navotas before and since I knew that whenever UMCOR responds to people in need, it usually means we are able to extend our help to the less fortunate. With this in mind I opted to help.
The municipality of Navotas is located in the northwestern part of Metro Manila. It is the fish trading capital of the country and the site of Navotas fish port complex.
It took us about three hours to arrive at Navotas. When we got there I could not believe what I saw— poverty at its worst. I was emotionally struck. The area was over populated and signs of malnutrition were everywhere. The place carried a foul odor and the children’s clothes were tattered and dirty. What was more shocking was that in the face of all this misery, some members of the community had turned to vices and drugs. At the sight of all of this, I realized how blessed I am. There are a lot of things I should thank God for in my life and not take for granted.
Our basic reason for coming to Navotas was to help the local community and their organization KADAMAY in rebuilding the homes of some 41 families who were forced to sleep on the sidewalk after their houses were demolished by local ports authority.  The beneficiaries were survivors of a violent demolition that occurred two years ago. We also distributed canned goods and sugar.
Children are happy to see UMCOR Philippines staff and volunteers who not only provided shelter and food assistance, but also spent quality time with the Navota community. Photo: UMCOR Philippines 

The recipients were so grateful and the children were so happy to see us that day. I was so moved by the community that I wanted to give them more. So I decided to play with the children. I had a wonderful time enjoying the games. It was very rewarding to see their happy faces and I felt the joy inside of me.
We left the area before sunset with all our energies drained.  But, in spite of this, I found joy in all these wearisome tasks and I’m grateful to the UMCOR family for giving me once again an opportunity to help others in need.  Indeed, it was a great experience.
*Clinton Bonghanoy is an UMCOR Philippines volunteer.

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