"Why am I doing this?" This is the question I continually asked myself when we were passing through the wilderness of the deep and scary forest, when we were climbing steep passageways bordering cliffs, when we were being chased by a carabao, when we were basking under the heat of the sun like being stranded for days on a desert and when we were perspiring like ice cubes on fire. We experienced all of these things and more when we were doing our survey for our community exposure.
But before we entered the "Death March in Bataan" phase of the survey process, we had to first formulate our tool for surveying. The survey tool contains the questions we will be asking the respondents as part of our assessment of the health status of the barangay. The most difficult part of the formulation of the survey tool was the part where we had to translate all the questions in Bisaya. We had to rack our brains to find the translation for most of the terms we used in the survey tool. After that, we had to divide ourselves into smaller groups with 2-3 members per group and start our surveying per household.
During the first few hours of the first day of our survey, we were all fired up to go to each household and interview the people. But as the day progressed and the locations of the houses became more distant from one another, it was like all our energy got sapped out from our bodies. We slept like logs that first night of the survey. We did the survey for 6 days and within those days, we have experienced a multitude of things.
We were like on Amazing Race where we had to pass through road blocks and detours just to get to the next house. But after every road block or detour or challenge that we faced during our survey, we always had a pit stop, where I always get my question “why am I doing this?” answered. It is so that we could interview the people of each household and get to know them better.
Most, if not all, of the people in the barangay live in a small studio type house made of light materials. Some of these houses have seen better days. The floors of some houses are broken and the children living in those houses might fall through the holes and hurt themselves. A lot of houses looked like they would fall apart when a strong wind blows through it. Even if their houses need urgent repair, they do not have the funds to do so. I remember one mother I interviewed shared to me a story of how they cannot even afford to buy food. She told me that there really would come a time in a year that the whole family would only eat salt and root crops like cassava. This is a common occurrence for most of the residents of the barangay. But even though they are experiencing these struggles in their lives, they can still smile about it and go on with their lives. After hearing the problems the people of Goin are experiencing I suddenly felt ashamed of all the complaining I did. To think that I just experienced one week of walking under the heat of the sun for long hours while the people of Goin have been toiling under the heat of the sun for years and when they go home they still have problems to face like budgeting their money to buy food and despite of all their struggles they still go on with their lives and have not given up.
I realized that even if we get chased by carabaos, even if we had to pass through scary forests, and even if we were being baked under the sun, all these things were worth it because of the people we met and the stories of their lives that humbled us.
I am glad that I faced all of those challenges during our survey week because if I did not pass through that scary forest, I would not have experienced the beauty and freshness of the scenery beyond that scary forest. I would not have been able to reap rice, to ride a carabao and most especially find a home among the people of Goin. The people of Goin are very accommodating and cheerful people. They have accepted us, 8 strangers from Zamboanga, like we were their long lost children or siblings.
So the next time we question ourselves, “Why am I doing this?” just remember this lyrics “Behind every dark cloud there’s a silver lining.” Hence, whatever challenges life throws at us we must move forward and endure these challenges because at the end of every struggle we will be able to meet amazing people and experience God’s gifts to mankind.
Written by: Anna Ricca "Nikki" Barre
Nikki is an anime otaku who loves eating meat, sleeping and lazing around but she is a PROUD ADOPTEE of the people of Goin.