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Building An Ark For Cangumbang in the Philippines

A Volunteer Trip Campaign in Leyte, Philippines by Elsa Thomasma

So Much to Share

July 15, 2013

I apologize for the extremely long delay! I have gone through a whirlwind of travels over the past 2 months, and I am not finally settled in back in the Philippines!

I am visiting Cangumbang on the weekends and one night a week to bring groceries to my favorite family of 6 children, and Saturday Lunch for any children that pop up! 

The center is almost completely finished, with just the plumbing, electrical, and finishing touches left to be accomplished.

The on going construction/center needs include....

Electrician and Electrical Supplies
Kitchen Utensils and Supplies
Paint for the exterior and interior
Remaining materials for furniture
Boat and other disaster supplies

Ongoing Needs of the Center:
groceries for feedings
activity supplies
misc. expenses (i.e. Electrical)

Please check out my blog for more infor at:

And email me at with any questions!

Working Towards Our Goal

May 16, 2013

Hello Everyone,

I am so grateful to share with all of you that we have had some amazing contributions over the past few weeks.

The additional funds that the contractor estimated we would need to complete the structure, with the altered cement floor and partial cement wall, came to around $6650 US Dollars. This amount was overwhelming to me at first, but when I factored in all the remaining needs it was truly only a small amount considering the work that is yet to be completed.

I am underwhelmed now. Over the past few weeks we have collected $4045 US Dollars. I want to thank my siblings and parents for donating so generously over the years to my various projects with VFV. I want to thank some amazing parishioners at Holy Angels in Sturgis, MI who also continue to support the Ark Project, as well as those who have by chance visited our parish and graciously accepted the call to contribute to our parish project. And thank you to an anonymous family who has helped encourage donations so greatly along the way by offering such generous amounts to the Cangumbang Project. Lastly, a special thanks to the Mita Family, and Victoria especially for sharing my passion so instantly :)

Our remaining goal is now more attainable than ever as it nears the $2000 dollar mark. My hope continues to hold strong for this project, and by the end of May the building should have its finishing touches. I cannot wait to return in July to see it in person.

Please see my previous update for many donation methods, and please spread the word about the Cangumbang Project so others can be involved in making a difference!

Thanks again,


Donations are in DEMAND

May 15, 2013

Hello Everyone,

Progress continues in Cangumbang even after my departure last week. By Saturday the construction team had fully completed the bottom portion of the walls which have been constructed out of hollow blocks, or cinder blocks, that are filled with cement. The only portion of the walls left to be completed is the area around the main entrance. The steel roof supports have been completed as well and the remaining roof beams poured. The workers are now moving forward and beginning to construct the frames for the stairs leading up to the center from the ground level. They will also continue to form the walls for the bathrooms and prepare for the installation of the tin roof. By the beginning of next week they should be able to remove the majority of the coco lumber of the massive scaffolding constructed beneath the second floor, which will notably change the look of the center. 

Things continue to move forward, but we are still in need of some remaining funds to put the finishing touches on the center. We still need to purchase the remaining pieces of tin roof, some of the window panels, and the amokan which will fill in the second portion of the walls. We also have yet to construct the septic tank. If you are interested in donating please contact me by email at, so I can answer any questions and further explain our remaining needs, or follow one of the next steps to contributing to the Ark Project:

Online/Credit Card Options:
Click on the "Support my Travels" button on the upper left of my blog page to donate via credit card or Paypal.

Mail/Check/Cash Options:

*Send a check or drop of cash donations to:
Holy Angels Parish
402 S. Nottawa St.
Sturgis, MI 49091
(Please make checks out to "Holy Angels Parish", Memo: Ark Project)

*Send a check to:
GoAbroad Foundation
324 East Oak St.
Fort Collins, CO 80524
(Please make checks out to "The GoAbroad Foundation", Memo:  VFV Cangumbang Project)
GoAbroad is a partner organization with VFV and they will transfer donations directly to VFV via bank transfer

Bank Transfer Option:
Visit Volunteer for the Visayans Donation page:
Scroll down to the bottom for bank details to complete a direct wire transfer to their account in the Philippines.
*These options are Tax Deductible

All donations made via any method will go directly to the Community Center Project in Cangumbang.



P.S. Check out my blog for pictures from the start to present of the project construction!

New Photos!

May 11, 2013

Hi Everyone,

Check out the most up to date photos of the center. We have completed the roof support beams and we should be moving on to the tin roof in the coming week. We have also completed almost all the lower portions of the walls! Great Great Great work :)


Oh my Gosh The Roof is Started!

May 7, 2013

Hello Everyone,

I went to the hospital this morning to get the remaining result and I was again disappointed to see the youngest of them all, suffering from two different types of worms. I was also disappointed when I went to see a doctor and I was told all 10 children needed to be with me with a guardian. Luckily, they told me if I came on Wednesday morning at 8 am they would prioritize me and also the consultation fee would be waved. Although, I am quite overwhelmed that I have to take about 15 people to the hospital on my last available day at the site. I am crossing my fingers that is is a quick process, and crossing them extra hard that the medications are not astronomical!

When I got back to the site I discussed the hospital visit with the children and their parents and collected some additional information.
My Littlest ;)
Then again I did a bit of first aid; the kids are starting to think they know how to clean up cuts but they definitely need supervision and more education about it.

John Joseph had a fever in the afternoon but after some paracetamol he seemed to be feeling a bit better, at least we are going to the hospital tomorrow anyway.

I came back in the afternoon to meet with my Sponsored child and her mother and then I was off to take Ellie Smith to the airport (a long time family friend).

My day was jam packed with things to do and places to go, I am hoping I can squeeze in every last thing tomorrow!

The center is looking amazing, they began installed the roof frames today and I was shocked to see them put in to place. They also completed more of the walls and started on interior walls of the bathrooms. And they were even able to remove the frames from the roof beams which was great to see.

The Work Continues!


Working From the Bottom of My Heart

May 6, 2013

Hello Everyone,

The past two days have continuously shown me the level of need in Cangumbang. It is so overwhelming to me at times how much teaching, and financial support, and attention and pure love the children need. I want to be everything they need, but I am beginning to admit to myself that I can never be enough for them. 

I can never wipe away every single tear. I can't cure every illness, or be there to patch up each skinned knee. I can't promise to be there to remind them to take their medicine, or wash their hands before the eat. I can never shampoo their hair each time lice comes back yet again. I can't always be as patient and understanding as they need me to be 24 hours a day. I can never fill their bellies when they have no food, or quench their thirst after a day in the sun. I can't be there to help them with their homework each day, and encourage them to work hard in everything they do.

I am finally realizing in order to fully work in community development and become a trusted support system you have to become a 24 hour, 7 days a week support system filled with resources and most importantly love. I have to admit to myself more recently that I cannot be that perfect support for every child in Cangumbang, and definitely not for every child as needy as each of them all over the world. It is hard for me to accept that I can never be good enough for all of them, and only good enough for some on some days. Instead I need to hope and pray that their parents will be there for them when I am not, and when their parents cannot be there that they will turn to God and find refuge in his 24 hour, 7 days a week, 12 months a year support available to them.

All these things became more apparent to me over the past two days....

On Wednesday I bought materials to collect stool samples from not only my six children but from any other children who's parents wanted them to be tested. I wrote the children's names on the cups and them demonstrated to them how to collect the stool in a sanitary, useful way. They giggled of course but some of the parents and older children observed and assured me they understood what they had to do.
When I brought the materials to the home of my six children, there was already stool or "tae" in the house. Three of the children walked in with me John Joseph the youngest, John Mark, and Josie Rose the oldest. I asked them who's it was and Josie Rose instantly asked John Mark, it clearly was not John Joseph's. At first he said yes, but then blamed John Joseph. I told him it was important we know so we put it in the right cup, not so we could yell at the right person. After a few minutes he finally admitted to his sister that it was his, and he shyly smiled at me from across the room. I told Josie Rose to watch me so she knew what to do when the two little brothers needed her to do it for them. They were both giggling as they watched me. In my head I was thinking, "this is way beyond my job description" but after I thought about it later I decided there really isn't anything NOT in my job description. I would do anything for these children.
Right before I left Jerone, the oldest brother, ran up to me and said "Ate Elsa...Tae ako" to let me know he had something for me to collect. I told him I'd do one more before I left and when I arrived I was oddly pleasantly surprised that he had put plastic down before going to the bathroom, what a smart kid. I left the remaining cups and told them I'd be back in the morning to pick them all up.

On Wednesday afternoon I was also suddenly swarmed with injuries. Rex one of the 7 year old children had a cut on his foot that was really bothering him, which he told me he got from stepping on a nail. I cleaned out the dirt slowly and carefully, however, when I pressed all around the actual wound I could feel the swelling and he told me it hurt all over the bottom of his foot. So I wrapped the cut well with antibiotic safe inside, and gave him some Tylenol to help with the pain. Just as I finished his Nathan, 8, ran in to have me look at his butt. He kept telling me it was painful and when he pulled his shorts down a little I saw he had three sores developing. So I cleaned those and put on some cream before covering them to keep them from becoming irritated. Again right as I finished Mark, 10, ran in with blood dripping down from his skinned knee. So I repeated the process, clean, dry, antibiotic, wrap and tape. All the kids are really good about getting things cleaned, and I am sure to ask frequently if it hurts so they don't fear telling me the next time. And in the end if they refuse to let me look at it then I don't force them.

Today I was reminded of my incompleteness when yet again some of the children came to me with lice in their hair. I found more than 20 eggs in Rex's hair easily and after having me pick them out for a while, he happily agreed to having a shampoo treatment. John Mark also had lice again so I treated him simultaneously. I had already treated his older sister May Joy and little brother Jon Jon on Wednesday, after they bot kept complaining of itching. John Mark and Rex were so silly once the shampoo was in their hair they chased each other around throwing clumps of bubbles at one another and it made me smile to see them enjoy the process with such ease.

I started the day today by collecting 10 stool samples, not from the source but just from the hands of the children who had collected them over night. Jon Jon eagerly changed his clothes when I said I was going to the hospital so he tagged along with me and we had a great time together. I took him to lunch at the normal place I go to have lunch and he ate more than I could believe. It was great to spend time with him and it made me realize more than ever that I would scoop him up and take him in as my own in an instant if he really needed me.

The children are no longer just more faces of children living in poverty from around the world. I see their face and I know their personality, their home environment, and what makes them giggle. I hope that through sharing my stories with all of you, that you too can also see them as individuals. As individual children that deserve recognition and attention, and assistance when they are in need. I love them all so much, I just hope that each day I can be better for them, and help them in more ways than they know they need it.

The construction is moving along well, the walls are coming up and the steel beams are nearly completed. :)


Project Completion Date

April 24, 2013

Hi Everyone!

Just so you all know, the projected completion date is the End of May to Early June...SO, donations are accepted until then and beyond!

Thanks for checking out my campaign!

Campaign Closed

$ 110


  • 1 % Funded
  • 0 Days Left
Campaign Expenses
  • tooltip Community Project Materials $ 6,000
  • Goal Amount$ 6,000

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