Monday, February 10, 2014

GK House Building in Philippines

I wanted a short trip during January and my friends suggested that I join them and a group of 8th graders on a service trip to the Philippines.  I discovered GK (Gawad Kalinga), an amazing movement to eliminate poverty, starting in the Philippines and spreading throughout the world.

Since it began in 1995, the program has now evolved to become Gawad Kalinga, a global movement that builds integrated, holistic and sustainable communities in slum areas.

We only got to spend 3 days there, helping paint about 30 new homes in a new community of people who formerly lived in shanties;  the commitment and faith in this community was palpable.  Of course we got more out of it that the people, but we were introduced to this concept (teach a man to fish...) and to the fact that it takes relationship, not just money, to change people's lives.

I am just going to share my and others' photos from our trip; please go to

to learn more about this amazing program.  We got to meet the founder's wife - read about Tony Meloto and see what one man with a vision can do!

We arrived by bus and walked through this shanty town to the new village site:

Our first view of the "new" village - essentially row houses that we would be painting.  The family who will live in the house, the beneficiary, works for 1000 hours, then gets to move into a basic home.  His/her family works another 1500 hours to become full owners; they can then add improvements, like a loft or second floor, inside walls and kitchens, etc, as they make enough money to do it.  The families loved to share their homes with us.

The children greeted us with hugs and smiles:

The architect told us about the village and what we would be doing:

One day we primed houses and painted plant boxes:

That afternoon we shared books with the children and the students painted canvas bags with the children:

The next day we got to paint a rainbow of delicious color!

Each day they prepared us lunch:

And here, on the left, is the GK Founder's wife.  On the right is one of our parent/chaperones who has actually sponsored her own GK village in another area!

Our chaperone group...guess who is the oldest... :(

I found this man beautifying his planter and little doorway.  Such pride of ownership.  And I hope you can read the 2nd one; they etched :God Bless my Home" in the cement.

In the afternoons, our students read books and played games with the children; here are a few action shots:

Love this man's shirt:

During the farewell celebration they called me and 4 others in our group up to the front...they presented us with a January birthday cake!  (We never got to taste it, though...I sure hope it all went to the children and not to the cooks!)

And the highlight of the celebration was this dance by the children.  Keep your eye on the littlest one in the front row!

One of the most surprising - and educational - aspects of our trip was the trip to see the mayor...she had donated the land for the village and supports GK in her way.  I will try to be very PC about it, but it gave us quite a contrast to the poverty we had been seeing.  She invited us in for food, for photo ops, to see her in action with her advisors, and to see the life-size portraits of herself all over her office.  
Just from observation, we learned a lot about how things get done in that country.  Whew!!

Our trip was short but the perfect introduction for us and the 8th graders.  Hopefully they will join the GK club in high school, raise money and take more and longer trips to help in such a life-changing project.