The same day that we visited Alnasher, we also visited Charissa Beth. She lives in the same area (Baguio City), with her parents, brother and sister. It is a bit unusual on these visits to have both parents in the picture. It is typically one or neither. Charissa Beth’s father is the pastor of the church that the group is working with. She is 12. Her brother is 14 and sister is 16.
The family lives a little ways away from the church. It was very muddy in that area and you have to walk a ways to get to the home, so they suggested we meet at the church. That’s Ginger walking in.
I’m not completely sure what the layout of the building is. It had the “parish hall,” which goes across the whole front of the building and is less than half that wide. Plus a small “kitchen” area (no running water), a bathroom and storage. It does have electricity; again, one bulb per room. There is a roof access and apparently another partial room up there (under the orange/green cloth).
Note the rebar sticking up from the roof. In these areas, loans/mortgages are not possible to get. No one has enough money. So buildings are built as money becomes available. If someone is building a house, they save up and buy the land. Then save for several more years and build the foundation. Then save for several more years and build the first floor walls. Etc. So it can take many years to actually build the completed structure. In this case, there are plans for a full second story, but the money isn’t available.
Below: Ginger and Charissa Beth. Ginger only just started sponsoring her. The children being sponsored often drop out of the program for various reasons. Moving too far away from the center to attend, having to get a job, street influences (some of the more urban areas have gangs). So another child Ginger was sponsoring dropped out and Charissa Beth was assigned by the director, due to need. I think Ginger had sent one letter, and in that letter announced that we were coming to visit. The trip was already scheduled and we were going to be in the area. So they hadn’t had a lot of time to build a relationship previously.
As soon as we walked in, Charissa Beth handed Ginger a handmade card. It is beautiful. The first shot is the outside. The card then opens up, as seen in the next pic.
Below are Charissa Beth’s mother, sister and father. The sister was pretty curious about us, including walking by us on the street to surreptitiously check us out before we scaled the stairs to the church. On the other hand, we never saw the brother. We were told he was very shy. I honestly didn’t notice until I was looking at the picture that they had a Dora the Explorer curtain.
Below is the inside of the church. I’ve literally got my back against the back wall taking the pic. You can see that the church will hold very few people. Combine that with the income level of the area, and the standard of living for the pastor isn’t great. I don’t know if he does any other jobs during the week. Not that we heard of.
As is typical on these visits, the family fed us. It is a badge of honor to provide food for your guests. We had bread with peanut butter and hot water with lemon or lime juice squeezed into it.
Below is the view from the churchyard. There is a school for the blind on the mountainside across the way. Another sign of at least some social services in the area. Not always the case. We didn’t see things like that in Africa, as much.
But, this is truly a beautiful area.
As I said, Charissa Beth’s sister was very curious and watching everything going on. She watched carefully as Ginger unpacked the gifts we’d brought, and went through a lot of it with Charissa Beth. She seemed pretty torn between participating and holding back since it wasn’t her sponsor who had come.
One of the gifts was a plastic frisbee-like ring. Seeing an opportunity, I grabbed the ring and the sister and we went outside to play catch. Notice the grass edge just beyond the folding metal chair and the clothesline pole. That’s a drop of about 6 feet and keeps going down from there. So first thing was to teach her how to throw, so we didn’t wind up having to mountain-climb after it. She really got into it!
As soon as we got out there, she started talking to me. First words out of her mouth were, “How old are you?”