Philippines LitCamp 2013: The LitWorld Team Lands in Manila

After a long flight yesterday, we woke up refreshed and excited to hit the ground running. We had a team meeting at the hotel to go over the LitClub activities we will be using during "bunk time" (bunks are small groups of campers that rotate through the daily activity schedule together) including the heart map, the hand circle, journal decorating and a variety of songs. Next each team member shared the special rotation activity that they will lead. Danny is doing cool team-building, physical challenge activities, Eliza is running a found art project, Susannah is leading a create your own animal/exquisite corpse project, and I (Yaya) am running a song workshop.

After we were done prepping, we met up with our volunteer team to run them through the LitCamp structure. Our volunteers include Peachy, our Regional Coordinator, Karen and Wendell, and our LitClub Leaders, Bhebhe, Dahlia, Project PEARLS' Disabilities Advocate, Nestor, the pre-school teacher for Project PEARLS, and Tom, a chef who retired from America and moved to the Philippines to volunteer with PEARLS. They are a wonderful group who are ready to make the LitCamp outrageously fun and joyful for the children! We had lunch together and then went through a LitClub activity doing Bullfrog and the Heart Map. We also got some very useful advice from them on how to structure our workshops so that the kids would get the most out of it.

Happily, we met up with Melissa, Founder of PEARLS, after the training and all of us, the LitWorld crew and volunteers, walked together to the national park nearby. It was really fun to get to know everyone and chat more with Melissa. We found out that about 300 families in the LitClub community have moved to Bulacan, and about 100 have elected to stay behind in Ulingan, including Bhebhe and her family. The families that have chosen to stay behind are worried about what they will do for work if they leave Ulingan.

There are no coal factories allowed in Bulacan, so the families that choose to move there must also find a new way to earn money. Some have started small food stands, some of them are selling dried fish, and some of them are still trying to figure out what they will do. Melissa and her board are working hard to implement new livelihood plans for the families, including one which would bring environmentally friendly coal furnaces to Bulacan. They create no smoke and use coconut husks for the raw materials.

We are going to Ulingan tomorrow so that we can see where the kids have moved from and get a sense of what their transition must feel like, and then off to Bulacan for our first day of camp! We have a huge suitcase of notebooks, markers, glue, scissors, books, construction paper, frisbees, juggling balls, and all the other makings of a successful LitCamp.

It's going to be an absolutely magical time!

--Yaya Yuan, LitWorld's Innovation Developer