So the last two days have been difficult. I wasn't moved into a host home on the Sunday as a few problems arose so I slept in a nunnery for one night. But during the day, Ronnie showed me lovely places to sit and eat, or drink as we explored around Ayala Mall. Being in the mall makes me feel at home, I see all those Starbucks logos and it really does remind me of the UK.
So today, all the volunteers met up at Ayala, and it was so interesting to hear about all those experiences of their first night in their host homes. But little did I know, I was about to move into mine.
A few hours later, Ronnie took me to my host home. Walking through the alleyway, as usual, everyone stopped and stared at me, I am white. You could see the area was very poor, people sleeping or bathing outside and children running around. I went inside the home and it was nice and cosy. I met the auntie who is deaf herself, but since I was with 2 other Filipino volunteers, they all signed so fast and I struggled to keep up. I guess I'm going to learn FSL a lot quicker this way then! Later, I met the grandmother, with her son and brother.
It really hit me hard. But I guess it's better to hit you now rather than later. Living with a hearing family (the aunt lives next door) is a whole new experience for me. Talking to the grandmother and hearing her say that her niece is a 'deaf mute' and that she dislikes sign language, and how 'normal volunteers' have come to stay round here before (hearing volunteers), is not what I wanted to hear on my first day.
Of course, I tried to explain, encourage her to learn some FSL and I said I was normal. She said I was normal because I could talk. But the other two Filipino volunteers were not normal. I felt uncomfortable, and tried to find a few distractions, unpacking my suitcase and talking to the other two volunteers; Jennesse and Rhosette.
I went to the bathroom and I was shocked. There was a toilet but no flush, so a bucket of water had to be poured into it, and the same bucket was used for a shower as there wasn't a shower. They don't have toilet paper so I had to use my own.
I was struggling, I was on the verge of crying but I knew all this was for experience. I decided to just talk to the family and I may feel comfortable. So I did. I talked to the grandmother and her son about my family, what they do and where I live. Of course, I didn't talk about my house and all the things I had compared to them because it's impolite. Eventually, we got on well.
So it's been hard, but I will get used to it. Like the grandmother said, I'll be able to live my life, live 'Filipino style'