Philippines Volunteering (How it Went)

It’s been more than a month since I’ve been home from volunteering in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines. Sorry about the delayed update. These posts are just significantly less interesting to do after the fact. In total I spent 21 days there working with All Hands Volunteers (AHV). Mostly thanks to the generosity of others!

My main concerns about going on other people’s cash was that the trip be worthwhile. Worth their money, worth my time and money, and worth AHV giving me a spot. And I suppose to a lesser extent, if the work that AHV was offering was worth doing. So in hindsight, how did all those factors work out? Money and time (same thing) well spent?

Continue reading “Philippines Volunteering (How it Went)”

This News Just in: People Are Quite Nice!

It turns out that my scheme to find a way to volunteer in the Philippines wasn’t that far-fetched after all. I’ve received donations from 11 super nice people! I think I’m actually more excited about how nice folks are than the trip itself. Anyway, I leave on Wednesday!

I had asked anyone making a donation to have a corresponding request so I felt like less of a freeloader. Many people had no request at all, but a few did. I got off the hook quite easily though. Here’s my task list:

  • Several postcards for various people
  • A few want photos of the work and my suffering. This one never gets old.
  • A small local piece of art, craft or handiwork.
  • An item off the ground. Not trash though.
  • Some local online contractor research.

Well, thank you very much to all you donators! I very much appreciate your help, and I’ll do my damnedest to get you your moneys worth out of this three weeks. I’ll post some updates here, and you should also check out the project and follow along on the All Hands site. Thanks!


// Shawn

Help Me Help You to Help Someone Else in the Philippines!

I’m pretty damn excited right now. I just cashed in my air miles and booked a flight to Cagayan de Oro, Philippines to do some disaster response volunteering. It’s been nearly two months since the typhoon flooding hit Mindanao, so here’s a short BBC clip for memory refreshing.

The catch here, and where you become involved, is that I can’t actually afford to go do this. What I’d like to do is offer my services to you in order to help me raise the money I need. Here’s the scenario and what I hope I can offer.

The Problem: I am planning to be volunteering in the Philippines for 3 weeks in March (3/2 – 3/20) with All Hands Volunteers (the same group I went to Haiti with!). A really short time unfortunately. The catch is that I’m also coincidentally unemployed as of the end of February. So I have no income with which to fund this. Granted, this should mean I don’t go. I figure though that I now have the spare time. And air miles covers the vast majority of the expense. Plus, it’s not like the thousands of people made homeless by the flooding are terribly convenienced by it all either. If I can cover the remaining expenses, then get some work as soon as I get home, I can pull this off. I’m totally up for the challenge if you are. By my math, I need about $600 to bridge the gap. This is for airline tariffs, taxes, medical insurance fees, and ferry tickets. All the unavoidable junk.

My Offer: While in the Philippines, I am offering to meet any request you have. Maybe you want to know something about the area, people, local food, etc? Maybe you just want a postcard? Or a picture of a cat? A poem about rice? I don’t care what it is really. I don’t like just asking for money for free, so I prefer to offer something in exchange. Whatever you think is a fair exchange for your donation. While I’m there I’ll also be working my ass off clearing mud out of houses, demolishing ruined houses and hopefully constructing some new ones.

You! Can simply chip in to make this thing work out and make a request. Most people seem to prefer PayPal, but if you don’t then just email me and we’ll figure something out. Any amount you want to give is fantastic! I’ll post lots of pics and info here of course. Plus any requests I get will be posted here. Any questions? Just ask! Please make sure to give me your email address with your request so I can let you know when it’s posted or ask follow up questions. Donate some money via PayPal here!

Thank you all very much! This idea of asking other people to help me go help some other people feels a bit awkward to me. I’m pretty excited to make it work though. Thanks!


// Shawn

How All Hands Volunteers Spent 2010

This video is the annual report for the organization that I volunteered with for 5 months in Haiti earlier this year. Annual report sounds rather boring, but it’s a cool little roundup of the projects that All Hands Volunteers (formerly known as Hands On Disaster Response) worked on in 2010 and it’s really interesting. It’s a whopping 6 minutes of your life, but I think you’ll really be glad you watched it. To learn more about All Hands Volunteers please go to


Disaster Response Volunteer, or Morbid Tourist?

There’s a sentiment amongst some folks that volunteers in disaster struck countries are simply morbid tourists. As though the destruction and suffering is little more than a sensationalized backdrop to a Kodak moment. I’m currently a disaster response volunteer, and I’ve seen hundreds of volunteers come and go in the past few months. Consequently, I’ve got a first hand perspective on the type of people that show up as volunteers after a large disaster.

Continue reading “Disaster Response Volunteer, or Morbid Tourist?”

Haiti Photo Potpourri

Sunday is my day off here in Léogâne, so I have some spare time to sit down and upload a few photos from the week. I was a bit remiss in taking photos this week though. I started working in the hospital and well it’s not so picturesque. Unless you enjoy seeing an old untreated tibia fracture. There’s a lot of sad stories walking around the hospital every day, but there’s also a lot of smiles. The pre-quake health care here wasn’t exactly award winning, so a lot of folks are just happy to have someone take a look at their malady. Continue reading “Haiti Photo Potpourri”

Random Léogâne, Haiti Photos

The last few days I’ve been riding in the back of a little pickup truck on the way home from building showers at a makeshift hospital. While sitting back there I sit my camera on my knee and randomly take photos out the back of the truck. Lots were absurd, but a few worked out fairly okay. Okay for not aiming, or planning, ya know? Plus a couple others I had on the camera. Anyways, if you’re keen for some street shots of Léogâne then you’re in the right place. Maybe tomorrow I’ll try and get some shots of the kids who helped me work today. Well they didn’t help so much as they frisbeed a plastic lid around, but whatever. Continue reading “Random Léogâne, Haiti Photos”

First Impressions Of Volunteering In Haiti

I’ve been in Haiti for three days so far. Several hours in Port au Prince, and the rest of the time in Léogâne. In this short time I’ve seen some pretty amazing things. Maybe not amazing in the traditional sense though. Let’s divide this post into two separate sections. One for my impression of the overall Haitian experience, and another for the volunteer work. I apologize that this post is a bit rushed, but I’m expecting the internet to cut out for the day any second now. Or the generator. Whichever goes first I guess.

Continue reading “First Impressions Of Volunteering In Haiti”

T-Minus 3 Days To Haiti

In 3 little days I’ll be up before dawn and flying to Haiti. I’m already a little bit sad that I’m leaving Victoria. It’s been an awesome month here, and I could happily stay longer. On the other hand, I’m also glad to be on the move again. I have quite a few hands seemingly, because on the other other hand there’s a ton of unknowns about how things will go in Haiti. Oh, and on the other other other hand… ok, not really. In the last minute I’ve learned that I either need more hands, or a new catch phrase. Continue reading “T-Minus 3 Days To Haiti”