Swords Shares Her Philippines Experience

In April, I had the pleasure of visiting my brother in the Philippines. Russell is a coastal resource management and an education volunteer for the Peace Corps - Philippines. In the Philippines, the Peace Corps is focused on developing sustainable programs in Education, Children, Youth and Family, Coastal Resource Management, and Disaster Management. Tasks include assessment of coral reefs, life-skills education, English co-teaching, marine protected area establishment, and development of systems for effective disaster management. Russell has worked to teach sustainable practices to local fishermen and to preserve coral reefs. He has also helped teens and young adults to achieve high school level educations or equivalency certifications.

During my stay, I had a chance to explore some beautiful places, try delicious food, and meet wonderful people. I also had the chance to share my love for basketball with young Filipino girls and boys. Together with my brother, we hosted the first annual interbarangay or “inter-neighborhood” basketball tournament for women and girls of Tinambac. Despite numerous tournaments for boys, there are few organized sport opportunities for girls. Russell organized the tournament with the help of local Filipino friends and Peace Corps Volunteers. Also, At the International School in Manila, we met with the girls’ high school basketball team and ran a clinic. Filipinos nationwide absolutely love the sport of basketball and were eager to share their passion with us.

We have all witnessed the incredible destruction of Typhoon Haiyan. Thankfully, my family and I have heard from Russell and his friends, and they are all safe. While Russell and his Filipino family are north of the most severe impact, many of his close friends and their families experienced the worst of Typhoon Haiyan. Several volunteers had to be evacuated and will no doubt encounter death and destruction upon return to their villages. Hundreds throughout the Philippines have mobilized relief efforts to get food and water to the victims of the typhoon. It warms my heart to see photos of the Peace Corps Volunteers working alongside the Filipinos; their commitment to be of service and to provide help to the needy endures in this time of danger and heartbreak. Those who live among the devastation have plans to help rebuild their schools and communities. This commitment and cooperation shown by Peace Corps Volunteers and Filipinos alike is encouraging and inspiring.

We can all play a part in helping to rebuild. Visit www.NBACARES.com to learn how you can be involved.