On November 4th, 2011, the U.S. Peace Corps (USPC) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) celebrated their 50th anniversaries by hosting an event at the Mall of Asia with partners and stakeholders in the Philippines. The event celebrated 50 years of promoting peace and friendship in the Philippines, with a focus on inspiring the next generation of volunteers to continue their missions.
Stairway has been a partner with USPC for over 3 years now, training Peace Corps Volunteers (PCV’s), counterparts and staff members in Child Sexual Abuse Prevention, and hosting 4 Peace Corps volunteers, each having different roles at Stairway.
One of our current volunteers is working in the nearby indigenous Mangyan community of Baclayan. Because of our current community development work in Baclayan, Stairway was invited to send 3 Mangyan women from the community to showcase their basket-weaving skills at the 50th Anniversary Celebration.
The 3 women, Susan, Marcelina, and Sinicia were excited and nervous to embark on this new adventure. Two of them had never been outside of Puerto Galera. They didn’t really know what to expect of Manila, so they arrived with fresh eyes and open minds. There were many first experiences to be had, such as riding in an elevator, riding on an escalator, using a flush toilet, having a warm shower, seeing fireworks, and eating new foods. They remarked on how many cars, and buses, and trains, and people there were. And most of all, they expressed how much fun they were having.
Susan, Marcelina, and Sinicia worked hard at their booth. Throughout the day, they quietly worked on weaving their baskets. They seemed undaunted (and maybe a little proud) to have photos taken of them while weaving by media, by volunteers, and by booth visitors. At the end of the day when they were asked what their experience was like, they remarked how happy they were that people showed interest in their work. They gained a new appreciation for the quality and artistry in each of their pieces. They were ready for more adventure!
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