‘Home is where the heart is’
It can be hard to explain to people how and why I do what I do and why I say I have two homes…this blog is attempting to explain some of that and the journey to discover that.
In 2008, I stepped on that plane in Newcastle and came to the Philippines for the first time, having no idea what to expect, where I was really going or how the trip was to impact my life. During that first trip Craig Burrows MBE (a friend of my fathers and the director of our sister charity ASCF) called my Dad so I could talk to him because the internet wasn’t good enough to Skype then. Before I spoke to my Dad, Craig said to him ‘you’ve lost your daughter to the Philippines’. I remember it because I remember thinking, ‘I do love it here but live here and leave my family? I don’t know’. After that I met the street children and knew that I wanted to work with them, I wasn’t sure how or where or when but I knew I had to do something to help.
After that trip, I came back a second time to Mindanao for a year before setting up the Charity ‘Triple E’ in the UK to help street children in Manila. It wasn’t long before, thanks to Craig, Roy and I got in touch and we co-founded and now co-direct the foundation ‘Fairplay For All’ here in the Philippines.
In between 2008 and 2010 when I founded Triple E, I had so many different experiences, many that drew me ever closer to my life as it currently is. It was only a few years but at the end of 2008 I was wondering what could happen in 2009 that could top that and every year since has been its own adventure of ups and downs, of lessons, tears and laughter. Ultimately though in those years, I didn’t feel settled doing anything anymore.
In Mindano, I loved the girls there but I felt called still to work with the street kids in Manila, I just still wasn’t sure how. I went home in 2010 after the year and did an access to nursing course with the plans to do a nursing degree at Teeside Uni. It was another great year and I met some amazing people, who have since become some of my closest friends, and it was that year that someone asked to sponsor me personally with whatever charity work I took on next. This led me to thinking about starting a foundation to fund projects and thus Triple E was formed to fund a charity project in the Philippines with street kids. When I subsequently met Roy it was clear we had similar aspirations to do with working with some of the poorest kids in Manila. Thus we decided to form a new foundation ‘Fairplay For All’ that would be funded by Triple E.
In 2011, after finishing college, I came back out and started working here again (please check out my Triple E/ Fairplay For All Foundation tab at the top of this blog) and basically I haven’t gone back to my UK home long term.
You might ask, what does all this have to do with blog title, ‘Home is where the heart is? I felt a brief explanation of life to date would help in the understanding of what I am saying next.
There are a few questions that I have been asked several times, Why do you live in the Philippines? Why aren’t you going to study? Why don’t you live in the UK with your family? and honestly sometimes I ask myself those questions. I went back to the UK for 2 weeks in April of this year (2012) and it felt strange for the first few days. It was lovely to see my family and my friends and to lie around and be ‘looked after’ again but I missed the Philippines. Things had moved on in the UK. My friend’s lives had moved on, my parents’ lives were different and busy. It was hard and it made me remember when I went home the second time (after the year in Mindanao) I had to create a whole new life for myself because people’s lives had moved on so much and it’s hard to just fit back in or pick up where you left off. People change so much and so fast in ways that you don’t even realise until you’re not there for a while and then return. I coped with that by starting a new college course and basically starting my young adult live again.
This time though, in April, it was different. This time, when I left the Philippines, I was leaving behind my friends, my work and the life I had made for myself. This sounds dramatic I know because it was only for two weeks but still, I was going home, from one home to another and it’s so hard to explain all the confused feelings that go along with that. In the UK, I was back with the people who know me best, my parents, and I was back with some very close friends who I’ve known for years, yet still I missed the Philippines. I missed my life here. Yes, of course I was welcomed back to the UK by everyone but somehow the place, the country, it didn’t feel like home anymore. So I came to the decision that there are so many pro’s and con’s to both countries that I can’t possible compare the two, I can compare the shops and the traffic but I can’t really compare the two countries as a whole because they are both so different.
I tried to figure out, where is my home now, where do I belong? That question took me most of my time in the UK to figure out. I came to realise that in a way, I have two homes. I never thought I could leave my parents and move such a long way away for such a long time (I’ve always been close with my parents) and now I don’t know how I could leave the kids and life I have here. I miss my family and my friends in the UK so much but ultimately now, my life is here. My family and oldest friends are in one place and a piece of me will always be split and be with them. However, my life and my work are for now in the Philippines with the rest of me.
It’s so hard at times to be far from them and so far from the home comforts I grew up with, but with the friends I’ve made and am making, and the kids I’m working with, makes these things a lot easier. So the Philippines is my other home, it’s where my life is for now and as I said, it’s impossible to compare the two places. I feel very lucky to have people who care about me on different sides of the world and to be able to have a home in two beautiful (in very much their own way) countries. One where my life is, the other where my family is and I’m comfortable with that for now and I’m so grateful and thankful to all those amazing people in my life who have made me who I am and those people who continue to impact my life in both of my homes.