Like many post-grads, I wanted to serve and volunteer for a year after graduation. I landed in Cebu, Philippines with a non-profit that rescued men, women and children from sex trafficking and exploitation.
I bought a Giving Key with the word Faith on it before I left. Faith that this year of my life would not be in vain. That I would see miracles, grow, and experience more than I had ever before.
Within 3 weeks of landing in Cebu, there was a massive 8.2 earthquake that shocked me to the core. Our office collapsed, leaving 45+ staff in a tiny, one room office. One month after that, Typhoon Yolanda wrecked the Philippines, particularly Tacloban in Leyte. Almost every Filipino I met was impacted; had lost a family member or friend in the typhoon.
After two natural disasters, keeping the faith was more than difficult. I went to the Philippines to work with sex-trafficking survivors and was pulled into this whole other area of need, working with relief and development. We did site visits to communities and villages that had been wrecked the most, providing families with building materials and food. I eventually did do lots of work with sex-trafficking survivors.
I heard countless stories, particularly stories of thankfulness and gratitude. That their past experiences were not all bad because they have led them to become stronger people that can help others in similar situations. Just amazing and inspiring! When it came time to give away my key, I did not hesitate to give it to a friend who was starting a similar journey post-college. To encourage her that no matter what her time serving was like, Faith would give her the perspective to endure and enjoy the blessings that came from it.