“Do Good” Philippines Edition
As a human being, it is important that we reach out to others who are in need. Not every individual who needs it can be helped, but it is important that we try. When choosing a place for one of our “Do Good” projects, we look for areas where help is few and far between. More specifically, we look for areas that have never gotten the help that they really need. This allows us to have the greatest possible impact on the individuals and communities as a whole. More importantly, by going to these places, the citizens do not feel as if they have been forgotten by the world.
Proof Eyewear is no stranger to doing good around the world. Since 2010 when the company started, Proof has built two eye clinics in India, provided Tsunami relief in Japan, contributed to reforestation in Haiti, assisted Nepal’s citizens after a devastating earthquake, helped with community empowerment & economic development in El Salvador, and donated to the Nature Conservancy in Idaho. On February 4th, 2016, we went to the Philippines for our most recent Do Good Project.
In 2013, Super Typhoon Yolanda ravaged the Philippines. Yolanda remains one of the strongest tropical storms ever recorded and is the deadliest Philippine storm on record. This single natural disaster left many families homeless, causing $2.86 billion in damage. Some areas in the Philippines have never received help of any kind, both before the typhoon, or after. With HELP International, Proof decided that the Philippines would be the perfect place to focus on.
The $15k project was funded by Proof Eyewear with the release of special edition sun glasses inspired by bamboo leaves on each temple. 100% of proceeds from the sale of the limited edition frames was donated to the Philippines Project where 13 volunteers executed projects relating to economic development, visual health, orphanage reconstruction, and empowerment of vulnerable populations. The projects provided solutions that wouldn’t pay off a problem temporarily but would solve economical and physical challenges for a lifetime.
Our team held the first health screening in Bantayan on February 7th, 2016. This specific island has never had health screenings since it isn’t near a major metropolitan area. Three mayors and the district social welfare offices promoted the health screening weeks in advance so people who were located on the island and islands surrounding, could plan for the trip. The main focus was to screen for eye issues, cleft lip, and club feet. The overlooked island is full of people whose lives have been put on hold due to these physical challenges. We spent the day screening people from young to old and scheduling their surgeries for the coming weeks. While families waited for the screening process, the other half of our team played basketball and colored with the children.
One boy that stood out to us was Gerald Borraska. Gerald is 7 years old and was born with an eye issue that kept him from participating in normal childhood. Most of the children screened that day had never attended school because they were either blind with cataracts or couldn’t walk from having club feet. Not only do these challenges affect people physically, but mentally as well. Two sisters that were both completely blind were able to get a last minute cornea transplant from a donor. They decided to do one eye each so that they could both see and not have one stay blind. The change in their demeanor was remarkable. After the surgeries, the trajectory of their lives will shift dramatically. Over 200 people were screened and 64 surgeries were funded & scheduled that day.
Our second health screening was back on the island of Cebu in Bogo. The team screened over 100 people for eye issues, cleft lips, and club feet.
On February 10th, 2016 our plane touched down in Manilla where we were able to visit a halfway house for abandoned and sexually abused children. Two weeks prior to our arrival, a newborn baby (with her umbilical cord still attached) was dropped off on the doorstep of this government run house. Each night, the 40+ children would sleep on the floor in the main room. While we were there, the children read through books that we donated and danced to Justin Bieber songs. We each partnered up with a child and made tie-fleece blankets so that they could each have a tangible memory of that day, but more importantly, have something to sleep on.
We left this halfway house and embarked on a 5 hour drive to San Fabian for our next set of health screenings. As we arrived at San Fabian’s rural eye clinic, we were met with dozens of families who traveled overnight to sleep in the clinic’s waiting room for the next day’s screening.
Our first day at the eye clinic was on February 11th, 2016. The day started out with multiple health screenings and eye surgeries. Once a person with cataracts was screened, they would go directly into surgery. We were able to sit in on several surgeries and watch the outcome of patients seeing their loved ones for the first time in years. The doctor’s stayed up until 2am working on eye surgeries the first night.
The second day at the clinic was full of more walk-in screenings and surgeries. The local volunteer staff took over the project while we visited a nearby school to donate books, teach the importance of hygiene, and of course celebrate Valentine’s Day in the local parade.
February 13th, 2016 was our last project day. We flew back to Manilla to visit a house for patients who stay for surgery prep and recovery. Each patient has one companion to stay with them, so there are roughly 10–60 people staying at the house at any given time. Before we arrived at the house, The Philippines Project had already funded reconstruction of an abandoned area of the house to allow for more patients. The funding also went to remodeling three rooms and fixing plumbing, electrical, and broken stairway. The expansion of the abandoned area & additional bathroom allows for both male & female spaces. Our graphic designer, Jacob, outlined two wall murals to brighten up the new expansion’s atmosphere and the team was able to fill in the lines with sunlight peaking through the open doorway. The afternoon was spent painting and playing with children recovering from surgery. Everything from the Philippines Project felt like it came to full fruition in those last moments of filing in the murals.
February 14th was departure day. After 10 days of squeezing into a van, traveling through the Philippines, dancing in orphanages, witnessing life changing surgeries, and becoming a family, we flew back home with bigger hearts and a greater perspective. To see our visual summary, click here.