I am Paula Bermejo, a simple 25-year-old girl, with desires of knowing the realities of the world and contributing with my grain of sand. I am a kindergarten and primary teacher in Mare de Deu del Carme School in Tarragona, and 15 days ago I began an adventure that gave me great learnings that I would like to share.
It is true that all adventures begin with a little bit of fear, but it changes depending on who accompanies you. During these two weeks, I was lucky to discover the true streets of the Philippines and the magic there. I call it “true streets” because they are the ones teaching the reality of the Island. That reality distant from beaches with transparent water, all clean, with all the facilities, tourism and consumerism. I speak about the street where you can hear children playing, laughs at the background, people working. I speak about the street where you can share gazes and sincere smiles, where people offer whatever they have, no matter how few it is. Having stayed at those streets showed me that the Sisters do a great job and the mission that is indispensable to make the life of the people living there a little better. It is sad to see people hungry, living in inhumane conditions, people who have to walk for kilometers to access a river and have some water or to arrive to a city to buy a minimum of food. It is sad to see that the world is so badly distributed and that depending on where we are born, we are predestined to have things or to lack of things. Sharing my time with children and teenagers I realize that there is still one thing, even more sad. I think that the fact we don’t value what we have, we never feel satisfied, we always aspire to have more, this is what makes happiness more palpable in the Philippines than in so called developed countries, like Spain. Now that I return to my country, I will try to bring with me a little bit of this happiness you have given me, just like they say: happiness is contagious, and I felt very happy here.
Nevertheless, there are realities that we cannot dissimulate, and it is the labor of the CMT sisters who do their best to make these difference disappear. They make it possible for all to have the best possible quality of life with dignity, and they are the ones who makes this happiness in the Island contagious. I think certain things cannot be reflected on paper, and this experience is one of these magical things that need to be lived by the person to be understood. To understand these smiles, to understand that sometimes less is more, and to understand that life is measured in moments. I love having possibility of sharing this experience with the sisters and having learnt so much from them. During these days, I was surrounded by 10 unbelievable persons who made all they could to make me feel good during this period of volunteering. It is difficult to feel at home in a place that far from your roots, but they made it possible. I give thanks to each and all of you for having opened the door of your home and having taught me so much. I promise that some part of you will always be with me. In my presentation letter I made a reference to words of Mother Teresa of Calcutta who said: “May nobody approach you without feeling better and happier when departing”. As the days passed by, I would like to say that I have approached many people who have made me feel better and happier, and I hope that my presence in the Philippines has also made these words become reality for some persons with whom I crossed my path, because I consider that learning needs to be shared. Sisters, once more I would like to give thanks all of you and to animate you to continue your work. Thank you for showing me that change is possible if there is love and perseverance. Lastly, thank you for teaching me that you can call “family” a group of persons with whom you live for 2 weeks, since the very first day you have become my family in the Philippines.
Philippines, thank you for teaching me so much. Companion in the journey, thank you for adding new experience together. Sisters, thank you for this home, I bring you with me.