On 4th January 2018 I was welcomed into a new world; a place I could never have foreseen in my most farfetched imagination.
This place is the Greg Secker Foundation Village; A Village built with inspiration, love and hope – set deep in the green, vast jungle of Lemery, Iloilo, The Philippines.
I was so lucky to be a part of something truly special; the official two-day hand over celebrations of the Greg Secker Foundation (GSF) Village.
What is the GSF all about?
The GSF is named after Learn to Trade founder and CEO, Greg Secker. Greg began creating the GSF Village after the disastrous Typhoon Haiyan (aka Typhoon Yolanda) washed away thousands of lives and homes back in 2013.
You can read more about the Foundation here. For the point of my post I’m going to get down to what happened on Day 1 and I will later share the glory of Day 2.
Why was I there?
As part of my job at Learn to Trade, I was given the opportunity to get involved with the GSF.
Of course, I immediately jumped at the chance and am so grateful I got to go – I feel like it was meant to be.
As a result of what I experienced I now want to do my best to make a serious (ongoing) contribution and essentially make a difference to the families of the Village.
What happened at the Village?
After traveling in the early hours from Manila (we left our hotel at 230am!), we turned the dirt track road down to the Village and it all started to feel very real.
I think it was around 10am when we arrived, we had been on the road, flown, on the road again. I didn’t want to sleep on route, I wanted to every part of the experience to soak into my bones.
We pulled up at the Village a little jet lagged but buzzed with excitement at what lay ahead. We had arrived!!!
As soon as I stepped out of the van I was greeted by smile upon smile. Women, Men, Girls, Boys of all ages eagerly awaiting our arrival.
We were briefed on our day ahead and then we got down to business!
I have previously shared an introduction here but in short; we were there to give away 100 typhoon-proof homes that the GSF team had been building since the devastation hit back in 2013.
Build A House Build A Home
As soon as I stepped out of the van and immediately starting interacting with the people of the Village; a bit of my heart was given away for life.
As the major party and celebration was due to take place the next day, our team duty for the day was to take part in actually giving the houses away to the families.
I didn’t realise we would be getting so involved and saw this as a huge honour, I felt privileged.
Between us we had around 60 houses to giveaway. There are 100 in the Village but some more were due to be given the next day.
How we gave away the homes
- Our team of 20 – 30 people (from offices in Sydney, Philippines, UK and South Africa) were broken up into groups of 3 or 4.
- Each group was given; a ribbon and posts to place outside of each house, a pair of scissors to cut said ribbon, two big buckets full of plastic cups, saucers, plates and cleaning bits.
- We met the families, chatted, hugged and were delighted to welcome them to their new homes.
- Each group was followed with a camera crew to capture the magic moments forever.
How it felt to be there
It’s hard to capture the feelings I felt as we moved around the Village.
I think one way to put it across is the fact that I have thought about it every day since I left.
Like, I’ve literally been waking up in the morning with it as one of the very first things on my mind.
I have clear visions of some of the people I met. A handful of which stick out in particular;
1. I noticed two books in one of the houses, and they looked like thick, complex reads – a young lady proudly (but shyly told me they were hers). She was trying to read with little/ no education. That amazed me and immediately made me take a mental note to ensure I sent books to the Village.
2. One little girl screamed with a big outburst of joy and jumped up and down clapping when we gave her the baskets with her cups and saucers in. Something so simple to me and you, meant so very much. It was heartwarming and just an amazing moment. She was over the moon, so, so happy.
3.The last house we gave away just so happened (by pure fate, not design) to be to a pregnant lady, her little one and her husband. This was pure gold, to see them all so happy for the fact their new baby would be raised with a roof over its head was special.
These three moments are among hundreds throughout the day; every person I met had an impact on me.
A new chance at life
Day 1 with the GSF made me re-evaluate how I am living, how lucky I was and how much opportunity there is to really help.
There were many tears and while I often could not understand what the people were telling us as we handed over the homes, I knew what was being said.
They were so happy and grateful beyond belief to be given a roof over their heads. A fresh start.
A new chance at life.
Hands on, Heart In, Real.
We take so many things for granted in our world. I have travelled extensively through Asia and also South America (where I saw horrific poverty in Brazil) and have seen so many walks of life – but something felt different when I was at the Village.
I think it was the fact I was able to really get involved; it wasn’t just a conversation or something I read on Facebook or watched on TV, it was hands on, heart in, real.
Let’s help together!
Tonight I cleared out my room and have a HUGE bag of nice clothes and bits to send out to the families.
I will also be running the Sydney Half Marathon again in May – this time with the company of my LTT team and anyone else who may wish to get involved.
I will keep you posted on all things GSF fundraising as I got – if you have anything to spare, anything at all that you don’t need PLEASE contact me directly and I will share how you can donate and make a difference.
No matter where you are in the world, if you have read this post you are guaranteed to be in a more fortunate position than the families of the GSF Village – please think about what you don’t need and if you can donate when we run the SHM that would be amazinggggg – and if you fancy being a super human (who I will love forever) – you’ll find it in your heart to perhaps do both.
Thank you for reading, I hope to hear from you.
HUGE Thank you to Greg Secker, The GSF team and the Learn to Trade team for letting me get involved.