Visual Arts student Emma Ryan tells us about her time in the Philippines having volunteered with development and volunteering organisation, SERVE
The SERVE organisation focuses on development and volunteering to tackle poverty in countries such as Mozambique, Philippines and India. The group of volunteers focus on improving the lives of children and young people in these countries while putting a heavy emphasis on gender equality. Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) has offered their students the opportunity to take part in SERVE for the past 17 years.
Emma, from Waterford, discovered SERVE when she began her studies at WIT, after contacting the WIT chaplain. “I called Fr David Keating, as I was interested in getting involved in community projects and working with people in disadvantaged areas particularly those with a lack of educational facilities. It was then that he made me aware of the SERVE project,” she recalls.
Before leaving, Emma organised a number of charitable events to raise funds for the journey, including a table quiz, a cake sale and charity art auction.
The journey commenced for Emma in July when she travelled with 15 other Irish volunteers to Cebu in the Philippines to work at the Nano Nagle Badjao school.
In preparation for the month long volunteering trip, Emma took part in three obligatory training days with SERVE, which included learning teaching skills, planning and evaluations.
While living in Cebu, Emma lived in a retreat house for two weeks, with eight other volunteers in one room. Having left the retreat house, Emma stayed with a host family in the redemption community which was necessary she says to, “understand the economic factors and culture of Cebu and the Philippines.”
“My favourite part of the trip was teaching the children and young adults’ art, also creating a mural to build awareness of the importance of identity in their community.”
Emma describes the whole event as, “a structured and organised charity,” while coming in contact with the injustices that the locals of Cebu face on a daily basis.
She was struck by the vast divide between the wealthy and the poor. “There are shopping malls growing at a rapid rate pushing people out of their community and homes with no rights leading to homeless on the street.”
Two other WIT students volunteered with SERVE this summer, Dervla Deacon who travelled to Bangalore, India and Katie Salter who volunteered in Mozambique.