a child like you and me

camera shy

I found these photos today while cleaning up an old flash drive.  Once upon a time, when I was fresh out of college and had big dreams to change the world, I worked as a therapist in a shelter for abandoned and street children in the Philippines. I worked there for about a year before I was accepted and went to grad school in Southern California. Seven years later, here I am.

Just thinking about those days makes my heart ache a little. It was more like volunteer work really, because we only got a monthly stipend that was not even enough to cover my basic expenses. Of course, I didn't know what the heck I was doing and there were times when I'd come home sobbing after hearing stories about a child's difficult life in the streets, but for the most part, we were happy.  It was a very simple life.

I still wonder about those kids. How are they now, what have they become, are they out of the streets? And sometimes, I still wonder about the girl that I once was, the girl who worked with those kids. A couple of days ago, I was so exhausted that I had to lie down and close my eyes for 10 minutes (working with children and adults who act like children does that to you), I started to question why I'm still doing what I'm doing. I still don't know and I suspect that it will be a long process of introspection. But I am grateful for these photos, for the gift of remembering. Its a good place to start.

aren't they beautiful?

street kids in mactan

Back stories
:: It was my first time meeting little boy in photo #1. He was very shy at first but eventually he introduced me to his siblings in photo #2. They were all part of our feeding program.

:: Boys in photo #3 lived in the streets in Mactan Island. I didn't work with them but they were so excited to have their photo taken and so jumpy I had to take it couple of times because all of them came out blurry, except for this one.

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends. xo


  1. What beautiful pictures - as a child my parents worked in one of the large squatter areas in Manilla.

    Your pictures make me remember, remember, and sometimes I feel so far away from that life. I look around at my beautiful house and wonder how I got from there to here.

    It seems it is the requirement of the young to carry hope.

  2. What an incredible experience and those children are so cute and precious! I hope they're all doing well all this time later. I still think about the children I've volunteered with throughout the city and wonder if they're as lively and rambunctious as I remember them to be.

  3. ItadakimasUMay 02, 2011

    hi odessa, what a lovely post! Didn't know you did that kind of work in the Philippines!

    hope that it also gives you more strength right now!!

  4. What an incredible and enriching life experience! Those children are beautiful, and they all look so joyful. Wherever they are, I hope they've carried that with them.

  5. elizabeth: you were in the Philippines? wow. that must be quiet an experience, especially with your parents working in the squatter areas. and yes, i do understand what you mean. its almost like a completely different world over there. i really do miss it.

    sofia: thank you! :)

    dorkys: i hope they are all doing well too. we can only hope for the best, right?

    kit: thanks for your sweet words. yes, it does.

    heather: they are beautiful indeed. their lives were difficult but they were also very resilient, its quiet amazing.

  6. i love and appreciate this glimpse into your stories, and theirs.