An Oamaru church group is making a habit of helping hundreds of people with basic needs in the Philippines.
Between January 18 and February 7, 16 members of the Waiareka Weston Presbyterian Church Impact Youth outreach group travelled to Manila, where they offered medical and dental services, provided food and supplies, and led building maintenance projects.
Waiareka Weston Church youth pastor Nicki Botting was part of the trip, the group’s third to the country within the past five years after visits in 2012 and 2015.
The group originally chose the Philippines for mission work due to the church’s large number of Filipino members.
As part of the first stage of the mission, she said the group, with the support of several doctors and nurses, treated more than 200 patients in Arenda, a suburb of Manila, painted buildings in desperate need of maintenance in the area, and hosted a youth outreach day with local groups.
Stage two of the trip involved travelling to the Valley Cathedral Children’s Home in Cavite, a province south of Manila, where they fed more than 300 children, provided dental and medical treatment for 340 patients, painted five buildings at the orphanage and constructed a new kitchen.
Teenage boys at the orphanage are taught to cook for themselves, so they can use that skill when they leave.
Spare time was spent playing games and doing other activities with the children.
Mrs Botting said the trip was again an enriching experience.
“It’s really challenging, but it’s incredibly rewarding at the same time. For us, people are extremely grateful for what we do .. people are genuinely really appreciative. It seems no matter what little thing we do, it’s huge in someone else’s eyes.
“What we’re really trying to teach the kids in the youth group is think outside of themselves and help where they can – other people in the community and other people in the world. This is one way we can do that.”
For Mrs Botting’s daughter, Courteney, previous trips to the Philippines encouraged her to become a nurse.
She recently qualified in the profession and has just started working at Oamaru Hospital.
“For me it was really exciting,” Courteney said.
“The first time we went inspired me to become a nurse, so it’s good to be able to help.”
Like many in the group, it was the second time she had travelled to the Philippines as part of the initiative.
Mrs Botting said all funds raised by the group through its activities were donated to the cause. The trip itself was funded by those who travelled and the Rotary Clubs of Oamaru and Waimate.
“We do it because we love it. We are very passionate about the community and the people. Having a large Filipino community, it makes it easier to do what we’re doing .. it doesn’t stop when we come home.”