52. A week before we were to move from our apartment to the Mabuhay Hotel, where we stayed for two weeks, we had things ready that were to be sent home, but we still didn’t know how we were going to dispose of some of our household items. Peace Corps sent (by airfreight) 100 lbs. for each of us, but our trunks weighed something like 35 lbs. apiece. We were able to get our Philippine purchases (salad bowls, a couple of carvings, place mats, etc.), a few books, and some clothes into the trunks without going over the weight limit. Most of our books we sent by surface mail. And the clothes we were not taking with us or sending home went to an orphanage. But there were still lots of odds and ends left. We were sure there were plenty of people who would welcome them, but we just didn’t know who they were.
53. Peggy’s summer project with the Department of Social Welfare turned out differently than what she expected. Since she never taught kindergarten children before, she really had to rack her brain to think of enough activities to keep them busy. To begin with all of these children were from disadvantaged homes. In many cases neither parent was steadily employed. Houses were small and crowded, and sanitation was poor because all of water had to be fetched from fire hydrants. And children often did the fetching in the middle of night because taking water from fire hydrants was illegal. Thus, these children had little opportunity to explore any of the world except their immediate neighborhood, and most of their parents were unable to fill this gap in other ways.
Field trips were difficult because they would have to use public transportation, which wouldn’t be feasible with 20 pre-schoolers. Peggy did get to use a couple of cars so that some of them got to go to the zoo.
Peggy’s Tagalog vocabulary wasn’t big enough to translate stories from English or to make up stories of her own. To get around this she tried to encourage the children to just tell about their families, but most were too shy. So, one of the most import kindergarten activities … storytelling … was lost.
Filipino children had very few toys, which Peggy thought could be good because it led them to be more creative with what they had around them. But she didn’t have the time or the where with-all to assemble household toys for her classroom. She thought about buying some things, but anything that was sturdy enough to be practical was horribly expensive. So they did without toys … made do with just a few books that had some things or objects in them they knew (mostly cats and dogs).
Peggy still thought the experience of having some organized activity and the chance to express themselves was good for the children, but it was too short-termed to do much long-range good. The nun who was in charge of the social center was trying to find someone who could keep the classes going after Peggy left, but she didn’t have much luck. Peggy was sorry to discover this opportunity only as we were leaving.
I was quite excited about the improvisation group I was working with as a director … there was some indication that they might really be able to stick together as a group, but I found the short time we had left even more of a handicap than Peggy did. I felt that we were trying to cover too much ground too quickly, and that cohesion might not have time enough to set before they were turned loose on their own.
Poor Linda was quite upset by our fast approaching departure date. She still didn’t have another job. (We had hoped she could work for another volunteer; but when our left, there wouldn’t be many volunteers left in Manila.) Her parents wanted her to go to the family’s home in the south because she had a boyfriend, with whom they were afraid she would get in trouble. We were very fond of Linda, and we were sure she was also fond of us. Her only consolation was that she was going to get to keep Peta, our puppy. And one of the hardest things for us was that we were leaving both Linda and Peta behind.
53. Peggy’s Oma wrote us, telling us that she thought it was “fine” that we planned to “see some other interesting places in far-away Asia,” while we were “near,” and not bound by a schedule of work. She hoped that we would find some odd jobs that would help with expenses, especially if we got to Japan. And she would be thrilled to have a card from Bali or Tahiti, or “any other exotic place.” She also thought that the “good conscientious work” that we did in Manila would be valuable experiences for us, whatever else we did.
Peggy’s other grandmother also wrote, expressing her interest in learning what our “real purpose” was in taking our trip to Singapore, etc. “Was it for a vacation, to see the world, or to begin a new field of missionary labor?” She also called our Peace Corp work “helpful service” and commended us for our sacrifice.
Peggy and Randy Ford