Category Archives: Social Justice

PHILIPPINES TRIP: The Center For Change (Orphanage)

[This blog has since moved to bybethanyjae.com. Head on over to check it out, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised… x]

Whilst in the Philippines, I had the privilege of spending two days and one night at The Center For Change (an orphanage founded by Margaret Pashley). Here’s just a brief post about it….

MONDAY, 5 DECEMBER: Day + Night (& my 21st Birthday)

On our way to CFC (thought we were all going to die at one point though - driving is VERY different to in Australia...)

After arriving and putting our things in our room (8 people + a Ning came), we were allocated to a ‘house’. There are about 10 houses with each housing between 10-12 children (same gender), a house parent, and in some cases even a social worker or staff person. Here we ate lunch with them and got to know them a bit. Their lunch consisted of rice and fish. A roster is created every week assigning all the children in the house to different duties including making meals and cleaning.

Taken by a girl. They LOVE Christmas!

The day I was there, Josephine was assigned to cleaning after lunch. She’s only 5-years old, knows very little English, and went about her business with the broom by sweeping and tidying up not only the kitchen and dining area, but also the living room and front porch. She swept until it was totally clean, and then went on playing. Josephine is a real sweetie. At first it was hard to communicate with her because of the language barrier, but once she warmed up she always seemed to be there with a smile and holding your hand.

Josephine (5 years old)

After lunch we spent a few hours in the school. Each student has their own desk and a white flag. If they need help, they simply place the flag in the holder, you walk over to them and ask: “Can I help you?” Usually they’ll just ask if they can go and score their work, other times they’ll ask for help with their spelling, and even maths.

One of the boys I went over to needed help with spelling (I LOVE spelling!) What I didn’t know though was that the boy was dyslexic, and having an Australian accent simply didn’t help him. He ended up giggling and calling the teacher over, to which the teacher explained the situation and said that he’ll carry on doing the spelling words with him. If I can be completely honest… it kind of crushed my pride. Spelling was always the highlight of my education life, but to then be dismissed of it because of my accent… well, it just seemed ridiculous.

Not long after though, the teacher came over to me and asked if I could help an older girl with her spelling – she’s really good at it and wanted to be challenged by having a different accent say the words (found it to be a slightly funny reason, but was so stoked to do spelling!).

School Desk

After school finished, we spent a lot of time playing outside with the children. They are all absolutely adorable, too much fun, and incredibly cheeky. One of the girls, Joan (Jo-an, like Joanne), even taught me Waray Waray and then insisted on testing me on the things she had just taught me. Example: ‘erron’ means nose.

A letter, picture + bracelet from Joan. x

We then had dinner at the house we were assigned to. This time it was easier because the children were now more familiar with us, and we were more familiar with them. We played Uno, catch, and just hung out. Some of the older girls and the house parent decorated the front door. They had some wood strips outlining a star, and with strips of plastic bag (coloured red and yellow), they tied it around it. Sounds silly, but it actually looked very pretty with the fairylights running through it. Simple and effective.

They also sang happy birthday to me at dinner. So cute.

One of the kiddies took this photo

Playing catch with these two girlies.

Jijibel - adorably cute laugh (tried to upload a video of her, but it wouldn't work...)

TUESDAY, 6 DECEMBER: The whole team arrives

Today the rest of the team arrived. School was cancelled and the day was dedicated to sports and games. Everyone was allocated into teams and away we went. There’s no point writing about it all because photographs tell the story much better:

Giving bracelets to all the children.

Praying for Mel who stays at the CFC for two more weeks, then is off to a Thailand orphanage. What a world changer 🙂

Friendships were formed & lives were touched.

A letter from Juan Miguel 🙂

Spending time at The Center For Change was incredible. Seeing how they live, what they eat, what they’re taught, and how they interact with one another was simply incredible. The politeness and respect oozes out of them, and I don’t think I’ve ever been called ‘maam’ or ‘ate Beth’ as much as I was over those two days.

You also saw the practical need and reality. Without going into too much detail, those two days literally changed the path of my life forever. So grateful.

Notes about Center For Change:

– Their entire water supply turns off at 6am and turns back on around 1pm. So either have your shower at night, or super early in the morning.

– There are 20 aid workers there

– CFC is working towards becoming self-sufficient

– They currently have a bakery but are on the lookout for a baker to come over and train them so that they can become proficient and utilise the equipment properly

Why go there? Because we have a world to change…

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UPDATE: Philippine Trip Blog Posts

[This blog has since moved to bybethanyjae.com. Head on over to check it out, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised… x]

Hi everyone,

You’ve probably realised by now but… I didn’t blog about the Philippines trip, and I’m so sorry! Long story short: I was really sick the first two days of the trip so it totally put me behind in my writing. And the trip was much more full on than the previous one, so I decided to simply enjoy the trip and recover, rather than adding an extra stress of having to stay up late at night writing about it.

Also, my camera charger decided to go on a vacation before I left so my brother’s camera decided to accompany me instead… but when it came to uploading all the photos onto my computer, I discovered that it’s file sizes were ridiculously large – thank goodness for the trusty iPhone camera though, but no thank goodness for slow wifi!

Over the next week I’ll write about a couple of highlights from the trip (example: Center For Change), but it’s not going to be like the blog posts I did last time I was there.

So, I’m incredibly sorry for the delay in updating you all about it. Hopefully you all understand 🙂 And also, The Friday Five will be back this week.

Until then, here are some snaps I took from the trip. Enjoy!

Much love, x

Mama Maggie Gobran: The Mother Teresa of Cairo

[This blog has since moved to bybethanyjae.com. Head on over to check it out, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised… x]

Meet Mama Maggie Gobran, often referred to as the Mother Teresa of Cairo.

She is a Coptic Christian who lived an affluent lifestyle sheltered from the slums and poor in her city. But after one encounter with the poor and poverty, and a conviction from God telling her to do something about it, she set up the non-profit charity Stephen’s Children in 1989.

“I liked to be elegant. But I found to be elegant comes from the inside, to love. True love is to give and forgive, to give until it hurts. With God’s grace I left everything and found Him shining, waiting for me with a crown of love,” said Mama Maggie at Willow Creek Church’s 2011 Global Leadership Summit (see video below).

Mama Maggie’s presence whilst speaking at this conference is simply piercing. She is fiercely gracious, and boldly humble. The tears in her eyes and down her face, and the emotion in her words can’t help but move and embed a desire in you to have that part of Jesus that she reflects so simply, purely and practically.

Because of her obedience, loving heart, and humbleness, Stephen’s Children now has over 1,500 workers and volunteers, and has helped over 25,000 families.

“You know, we don’t choose where to be born. But we do choose either to be sinners or saints. To be nobody, or the heroes. If you want to be a hero, do what God wants you to do.”

Stephen’s Children “offers hope and transformation for Christian children and families living in Cairo’s fetid garbage slums and impoverished communities.” By focusing on the children living in the garbage slums, they are encouraged to “experience love, build self worth and seize hold of the hope that is found in Jesus Christ.” Find more information about it here.

Nellie Bly: A Pioneer In Investigative Journalism

[This blog has since moved to bybethanyjae.com. Head on over to check it out, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised… x]

This post is going to seem a bit left of centre compared to other posts, but when I discovered this lady whilst doing an assignment, I simply had to share.

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 “Energy rightly applied and directed will accomplish anything.” – Nellie Bly’s motto

 Nellie Bly, born in 1864 as Elizabeth Jane Cochran, is a pioneer in investigative journalism. She went to phenomenal lengths to ‘get the story’ and reveal the social injustices of her time.

Her most notable pieces include: Ten Days In A Mad-House, and Around The World In Seventy-Two Days.

My personal favourite is Ten Days In A Mad-House.

Here Bly, 23 years old at the time, went undercover in one of New York’s women’s asylums to report on her experience there. She faked insanity fooling not only her friends and family, but also the doctors. After ten days of being undercover, she was released. The articles she went onto publish revealed what life really was like for the insane there and caused an uproar in New York.

As a result of these articles, investigations were launched with the result being increased funding for asylums and better care for those in there.

“Could I pass a week in the insane ward at Blackwell’s Island? I said I could and I would. And I did.” – Nellie Bly

Bly did many remarkable things throughout her career including travelling the world in a record-breaking 72 days in 1889, and being the first female war correspondent during World War I.

And when she died in 1922, The Evening Journal declared her to be “The Best Reporter in America.”

The more you research Bly and read about her life, the more respect and inspiration you can’t help but have for her. Her passion for revealing social injustices and being the best at what she did is unquestionable and undeniably inspirational.

“I have never written a word that did not come from my heart. I never shall.” – Nellie Bly

For more information see her website here.

First Thought Of The Week: Forgiveness

[This blog has since moved to bybethanyjae.com. Head on over to check it out, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised… x]

This was one of the first things I read when looked at my Twitter stream this morning.

Being asked that question, first thing on a Monday morning, so bluntly, really made me think.

His following tweets read:

And then the next thing I saw was a link to the following article. It circulated the Twittersphere and news programs throughout the rest of the day.

BLINDED IRANIAN ACID VICTIM PARDONS HER ATTACKER

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — An Iranian woman who was blinded by a suitor who threw acid on her face has pardoned her attacker at the last minute, sparing him from being blinded by acid as retribution.

Iranian state television broadcast footage Sunday of Ameneh Bahrami in the operating room with her attacker, Majid Mohavedi, who was on his knees waiting for her to drop acid in his eyes as punishment.

Bahrami said she has forgiven Mohavedi and pardoned him. State TV showed Mohavedi weeping and saying Bahrami was “very generous.”

Mohavedi poured acid on Bahrami’s face and blinded her in 2004 for rejecting his marriage proposal.

A 2008 Iranian court order allowed Bahrami to pour the corrosive chemical in Mohavedi eyes as retribution.

Source: (Via the Associated Press and Yahoo News)

The people involved in the two events above had their world changed forever many years ago when someone acted upon them out of revenge, bitterness, anger, hatred, numbness, and ignorance.

However, those on the receiving end chose to forgive. It may not have been at the time, but they forgave in time.  And the forgiveness that these people bestowed really challenged me.

Although Bahrami originally wanted to carry out the retribution, if she had have gone through with it, it wouldn’t have made waves in the media. Why? Because it’s a common act of law in Iran; it’s something that’s always happening.

But because she chose to forgive and show grace, people took notice.

For those who are aware of the horrendous atrocities that are going on in Rwanda, forgiving those that caused them and their nation so much pain and terror is a big step forward.

It’s also a glimmer of hope of what’s to come because people are beginning to choose to show grace, forgive, and unite.

Thought: Never underestimate what (your) forgiveness can do.

Belated Apologies & Horrendous Atrocities

[This blog has since moved to bybethanyjae.com. Head on over to check it out, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised… x]

Hey y’all,

This is just a quick one giving my apologies about not blogging lately. Some of you have been asking me, “When are you putting up a new blog post??” Haha, you guys make me giggle!

Life has been crazy-busy since returning home from the Philippines. I’ve been ill, missed way too many Unischmersity classes and as a result, have been frantically trying to catch up on my studies. Not that I’m making excuses, but the third and final year of University is kind of important, true? True.

Once this semester is over in a mere couple of weeks (hellooooo June 6!), watch this space, because there’s going to be some shocking posts coming up.

What do I mean by shocking?

Well, I’ll leave you with this article, Forty-eight women raped every hour in Congo, that I read today in one of my breaks. It left me in a state of shock.

It tells of the horrendous atrocity that has been happening for years and is still happening right now as you read this. The Congo has a ridiculous statistic that 12% of its women have been raped at least once; which equates to 48 women being raped every single hour.

Calling it “shocking” is such an understatement. But each number represents someone’s grandmother, mother, daughter, sister, aunty, niece, neighbour and newly born baby who has had to go through this horrendous act and now bears the permanent scars. *Sigh*. As I began researching the issue further, it left me grieving for these women, yet hopeful because there are now organisations and professionals helping these women and children.

When you read things like that, you need to share it. Not so that people can be all downcast. No, not at all. It’s about being aware of issues that don’t receive merely as much media attention as planking. It’s about breaking out of your little bubble and being shocked then moved to action. And in all seriousness, ignorance is not bliss.

So, sorry about the uhh, low note, but I just wanted you guys to read something that’s impacted me greatly at the moment.

Anyway, have a read and post to you soon!

Love love xx

“There are some defeats more triumphant than victories.” – Michel de Montaigne

The Philippines: The Double P (Poverty + Prostitution)

[This blog has since moved to bybethanyjae.com. Head on over to check it out, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised… x]

If you’ve been reading these posts you would have gotten a sense of excitement about the trip…which it totally was and we’re all still buzzing from it. But there’s a dark side of that week that I didn’t put in; mainly because I wasn’t too sure about how to tell it with the integrity and justice it deserves.

So, I’m calling this post the double P – Poverty and Prostitution.

Poverty

Prior to leaving for Tacloban, people who’ve gone there before were telling me about the environment, to be brace myself for the poverty and that I’d most likely get some degree of a culture shock there.

Touching down at Tacloban airport, you are immediately welcomed with an entirely different environment than the one you left back in Melbourne. Everything (and I mean, everything!) is green. It’s so beautiful and luscious, and compared to Melbourne’s current brown landscape, Tacloban is a pure tropical heaven.

Travelling from the airport to the hotel though, is when you begin to get see with it – little shacks where people live, the slums, people walking barefoot, transportation, advertisements everywhere, etc, etc.

Note: this was the entrance to the Adore Conference venue. Beautiful!

Yes, the poverty was bad and it’s an injustice in the world. Yes, it’s a terrible, terrible thing seeing how some people live. But in a week what can you really do? You hope that what you did when you visited the slums will help in some way. But realistically, it will take a lot of time, money, manpower, the altering of mindsets and much, much more to see poverty abolished there.

When people travel to Australia, they generally fall in love with the environment. When people travel to the Philippines, they generally fall in love with the people. When you travel somewhere you fall in love with what is enriched there. And we all fell in love with the people.

Australia may have an abundance of material things, but the Philippines have an abundance of richness in character and spirit; something that many Australians lack.

So as much as seeing the poverty opens your eyes to the world around you, you have to keep perspective.

 Prostitution / Human Trafficking

Day Three: Part One – Off To The Mall”. That post was full of excitement as we all went down to the mall for the first time. It was a fantastic day, however I left out part out of it. Here it is…

The Enjoy and New Life crew were sitting in Shakey’s eating lunch. The table across from us sat two older men who looked to be in their late forties, early fifties, and and two Filipino women who looked like they were in there twenties. You might say, “Well they’re just having lunch. What’s wrong with that?” But putting it straight, these men oozed evil. You may think that’s a bit harsh, but if you saw them you would get the same feeling in the pit of your stomach. Looking at them you got a sense that they weren’t going to show these girls what a gentlemen was. And eventually they all left…together.  While we were eating lunch and watching them (not in an obvious way though), everyone was feeling uneasy and it just didn’t sit right with us all.

Talking about it

Why? Because there were countless other times during the week when we’d be eating breakfast at the hotel and there’d be an older Western man eating breakfast with a Filipino lady…and the next morning he’d be eating breakfast with a different lady again.

There’d be times when I’d be writing these blog posts in the hotel lobby late at night and older men (yes, more than one man a night) would constantly go up to their room with a lady…and the next night it would be a different lady again.

And to be honest, I actually don’t recall a night where this didn’t happen.

I’m not going to label these women as prostitutes or victims of human trafficking because we saw so many different situations that it would be unwise to group them all in the one category.

As much as some of us wanted to step in and say something to help the women in Shakey’s or at the hotel, what would we say? If they were in the prostitution industry or a victim of human trafficking, how would we get them out of it? Would we get them out? Would they even want to be helped out of it? What would the men do? How would we deal with them? Where would the girls go after it? Is there even somewhere safe for them to go? Do they even know how to live without having to depend on that industry for money? Will they just end up in that industry again?

So, you have to be wise in situations like that. You could do more damage by acting out of anger and with no protection – and that would be a tragedy to their life. All you can really do is pray and believe.

You may have read stories and seen pictures about it, but nothing can really prepare you for it when you witness it for yourself.

In the words of Thoreau, “It’s not what you look at, but what you see.”

Facts:

– There is an estimated 27 million victims of human trafficking.

– In 2008, the Philippines was listed in the top five countries of where human trafficking victims are from

80% of trafficking victims in the Philippines are females and under 18 years of age

For more information on human trafficking, see The A21 Campaign.

Note: I searched for hours trying to find statistics specific to the Philippines, interestingly though, there was very little to no information on it. However, there are many statistics on other countries. Hmm…