By Eitan Feldman '11
Two months ago, I completed my study abroad in Nanjing, China. Since then, I have spent time in the Philippines working on an island where the most important industry is sugarcane and sugar. I have been volunteering on a small farm.
I thought it might find some leisure time but once presented with people who were so poor that many couldn't afford dental care or even underwear, I felt compelled to help in any way possible.
I began with small steps. I provided one worker with a full set of dentures. I donated almost all of my clothes, and every day I brought in extra food for us to share. Soon I was treated like one of their family: I had uncles, aunts, cousins, brothers, sisters, and adopted parents.
I hope to go back there one day and help provide dental care. I have begun talks with business owners in Manila to see if we can begin an organization that provides people with teeth, especially the poor farmers with whom I worked.
Being exposed to poverty, agricultural simplicity and a system that is struggling to find a balance between the people and the economy was more than I bargained for. It was difficult to say goodbye to them, knowing there was so much work left to do, not only in the fields, but also in their own communities.