by Zach Oesterreicher
Humans are limitless when they share their love. I learned this during my stay in the Philippines from the people I met: the children, men, women, and each person whose inextinguishable spirit radiated onto my heart. The conditions in which they live would certainly be enough to dishearten a common man. But that is because the ordinary human does not have a spirit filled with uncompromising trust in love. However, the Filipinos whom I met in Banago, the village in which we worked, were people with faith, hope, and most importantly love. From the very minute I entered the country to the final moments before leaving, I was welcomed into their lives as a simple stranger. Yet they gave me their gifts, their hugs, and most memorably their smiles, from which I felt such hospitality.
But again, the limitlessness was ever present. By this I mean that the people had exceeding amounts of generosity. In the picture that I have enclosed, there is a boy whose actions illustrate that which my inadequate words cannot explain. He is one of the many examples of love that I’ve been trying to describe. Originally a stranger to me, this boy spent his entire day helping our group travel through the mountains during our free day. He never complained about the poverty in which he had been living. He gave us nothing but love. How is that possible? I can only speculate that this limitlessness came from his giving of love, an action I believe to be deeply rooted in the Filipino culture.
So upon returning from the Philippines, I now frequently wonder what each of my new friends is doing. Are they safe? Healthy? I want them to know that I still pray for them. I want them to understand that they still have people here, in the States, thinking of them. I have been deeply moved by these people because they have proved to be such strong, loving, and brave humans. Many of us here in America dwell on such trivial issues, but I’d like you to know that because of my Filipino friends I am free. I’ve been made into, or at least am developing into, that limitless being.
After this experience, those who traveled to Bacolod, including me, felt obligated to do something upon our return. Therefore, with the help of a few students and Carrie Roberts, the campus ministry service coordinator, we created a group. The group is affiliated with and run by a much large organization called Gawad Kalinga, which literally means, “giving care.” It has dedicated itself toward the fight against poverty in the Philippines.
Already we’re made an impact. As of last Thursday, we completed out first project: collecting shoes. Following one week of dedication by many people, we managed to raise nearly 100 pairs of shoes. The gifts will be sent to Banago, a local community in Bacolod. With this donation, our recipients will be able to protect themselves, namely their feet, from harmful diseases found inside their community. With polluted water and dangerous living conditions this is no trivial matter. Our group will be continuing with projects such as this in the near future. By modest and simple actions your help will change many lives in unthinkable ways. Please consider joining in on the future efforts.