Elaina. That is the name of our closest friend. Her knowledge of small town customs and gossip has been invaluable.
She does two loads of laundry for us each week, which earns her around 700 pesos (16AUD). We can easily afford to pay her more. We would love to pay her more. But we fear, that already, we are doing more harm than good.
Elaina was diagnosed with type 2 dabetes last month. She is blind in one eye, most likely from this condition. Our laundry money is providing for the bulk of her medication expenses. This gives her strong incentive to stay in our remote precinct.
Work in the Philippines is rare, steady work is rarer still. Unfortunately for Elaina, her work is far from her family. There may come a day when her good eye begins to fade.
Are we helping Elaina, or building her up for a bigger fall?
Does welfare always create dependence?
Who the hell am i to decide? I’m the spoilt, pampered tourist from the west.
Many a time have i sat down with good friends and attampted to find the whirled peas hidden at the bottom of a bottle of wine. Many solutions were found, proposed and forgotten.
Since arriving here, the statistics of poverty have been replaced with faces. My impartiality and reason has given way to empathy and desperation. The faces in world vision brochures are now children that i see each day.
Charity just seems to create dangerous dependency. They are my friends and i cannot help them.
I feel like my situation is akin to a swimming instructor on the deck of a sinking ship. I have the knowledge, but i cannot impart it.
We were so naive.