Over the holidays, we had the pleasure of reconnecting with Ralph Rodschat and Pascal Annoual, longtime friends, who have followed Stairway’s development for nearly 20 years!
It has been almost 20 years since we first met the wonderful people at Stairway and almost that long since most of the family had been back to the Philippines, so were thrilled to finally make it back this Christmas season. It was a wonderful return to a beautiful place and the welcome received from Monica, Lars and the whole team made us feel those years melt away.
Over these two decades, we have been in constant contact with Stairways, so we were aware of all the wonderful work that had been done, but the physical transformation of the site has been astounding also. I wonder how people coming to Stairway now for the first time must see this wonderful bee-hive of activity that is a center for theatrical presentation, advocacy and training for children rights, and environmental awareness. Without knowing the humble beginnings and how hard the whole Stairway team worked to make it possible, you could look at this smoothly functioning center that has Wi-Fi access and conference facilities and think it had always been that way. You wouldn’t know that when we met him back in 1996, Lars would have to make exhausting trips to Manila if he wanted to do something as simple as send an email.
Of our family members, and as an Art Therapist, Pascale was the one who initially sought out Stairway and she clearly saw that creative energy those years ago. It is truly special to see the personal development that the kids at Stairway undergo and the reach that Stairway now has across the Philippines. Through all the physical transformations, that creative spirit has definitely been a constant in the Stairway DNA.
We also always recognized this as a place open to experimentation and JuliAnna and I saw this as an ideal place to propose her test project on the transfer and adaptation of adobe mud brick construction. We’re hoping that this initial study to test the application of techniques we observed in Guatemala can yield some useful information and possibly a different approach for environmentally friendly and durable construction. You can see from the pictures below that Jules and I enjoyed our latest stay as much as our first (we’ll let you guess which is which).