This blog had been the hardest blog I have ever written for many reason. One being that it's not about my experiences in the Philippines but it's about me and my own experiences as a person.
Last week I have made the hardest decision - to end my programme prematurely.
I am going home, back to London.
I promised myself that I will never dwell on negatives while writing blogs and I am not going to now. I will say that the main factor that made me consider to go home early is down to VSO-ICS and the organisation in whole.
I will not accept that I have decided to go home because I was homesick, even though I was but I was managing just fine. I am not going home because I missed home comfort. I'm not going home because I want to, I had no choice.
The truth is, since the 2nd week, I have been very unhappy with the organisation and the structure of the program and the attitude from VSO directly and last week I decided that I cannot be unhappy any longer so I had to do what I need to do to make myself happy.
Now you may think I am being selfish or a wimp for not staying for the planned 3months, and last week, I would agree with you all. I thought I was selfish and weak.
But I am not.
I signed up for this programme because I wanted to experience life away from home for a short time, to learn more about myself but mainly, to figure out what I want in life when I get home. I'm reaching the end of my 6th week and I have already achieved what I set out to do. I am comfortable with the prospect of getting a job, a house and my own life which before this programme I was not. I can now honestly say that I really do appreciate the little things I have back at home and I now appreciate how fortunate I am as a deaf British person. Being in the Philippines had changed my all my priorities.
I am not selfish because how can I make a change for someone else if I am not happy with the way things are for me? Me being unhappy means that I am not performing my best, I'm unmotivated to make a change, and it not the filipino's fault so it was not fair on them as they are expecting me to be proactive and to empower them to make a change, I was not doing that because I was unhappy. At the end of the day, the number one priority has to be yourself. I have tried many different ways to keep myself positive and happy, feeling that I was being too selfish. I have managed 6 weeks of doing just that, but the truth is, I cannot do it for another 6weeks, it wouldn't be healthy for me or for the team or even for the Filipinos.
I am not a weak person because this had been the hardest decision I have ever made. I have been unhappy before but did not do anything about it because I was afraid to do so. Not any more. I am a braver person now because I have full control of my life.
Ending my programme early means that I won't get a reference at the end of this whole programme, it would be as if I have never signed up in the first place. Now this is very sad, it would mean that I have wasted my 6 weeks. But no. I refuse to see it like that. I value my own happiness over a piece of paper saying 'well done'. There is no point paving the way for your own future if you aren't happy at the start so how can you be happy in the future? Life is far to short for that and being in the Philippines shows just how much I can potentially achieve in life compares to the deaf Filipinos. That alone is an experience that needs no congratulatory paper from VSO.
I will go home feeling proud that I have done what I set out to do earlier than planned. I am proud that I am able to take control of my own life.
The experiences I have during my time here had been incredible and I will always remind myself of this trip.
At the end of the day, even though I was let down by VSO, resulting me to pull out of the programme, the real victims are the deaf Filipinos who are missing out the potential changes that I could have continued to make at my work placement at DSWS.
The real irony is, we are trying to empower deaf people to make a change for themselves, but it is very difficult to change the attitude of people toward disability, even the staffs at VSO themselves have poor attitude to deaf people. I have to be assisted to go to Manila to get my connecting flight to the UK as I am seen as a 'vulnerable deaf adult'. My team leader cannot go with me too because she is too a 'vulnerable deaf adult' so I have a hearing Vso staff with very minimal communication and awareness skills with deaf people. It is so ironic! How can VSO expect us to change the attitude toward deaf and disabled if they are not prepared to change themselves! I could not even hold my passport as I may 'lose it'.
All of that aside, I wish to say two things:-
- life is short. I know it's such a cringe and terribly over used (#yolo) but it really is! Appreciate what you have because you will never know when it will end. The biggest injustice in life is regretting your life and wishing you did something to change it but it's too late. If you are unhappy, then do something about it. If you aren't happy then how can you be you? Forget everyone else, the priority has to be you! You may think it's selfish but I have learned it is not. It is not selfish to consider that your own happiness is the most important thing ever.
- I could have not last 6 weeks without my team. Through all the downs we have endlessly supported each other. We all laughed and cried together and without these special people, I could not have made it this far and it is down to them that I have achieved my tasks. Thank you.
See you all in the UK
Thank you to my Mum and Arran for their endless support and keeping me sane. Thank you to everyone else for their support too. You have made this trip possible for me, though I didn't stay for 3 months, I did a half.
I really do believe some things in life happens for a reason.