I shared this on my personal page, and I wanted to blog this here too. Here’s my version of the ice bucket challenge. It’s really not photography related, but I just wanted to share a little part of me, a little bit more personal. Taken (and slightly re-edited for blogging purposes) from my status on my personal facebook page.
*I’m currently on vacation in the Philippines.
I got challenged by my friend Kim to do the ice bucket challenge. I was about to do it since I normally don’t back out of dares, and have my nanny Belen help me film it. But I had a change of heart. Not to chicken out, but let me just tell you the story of Belen.
Belen is my Saturday nanny. She works for me for $7/day (the average daily wage for nannies here) to help me with my kids; Elliott and Finn. I don’t really need a Saturday nanny, but I employ her because she needs the $7 to buy medicine for her granddaughter who has a kidney disease. There are days she doesn’t even have enough fare money for the jeepney, a mere 40 American cents, so I do send some fare money to her neighbor whom works for us also, so she can have a means to get to work. After work, she commutes back home, and still hikes in the dark through a muddy road with no street lights in order to arrive to her home. There are days where they don’t have food to eat, no medicine. Last week, she asked for permission if she can have some of the empty water jugs from the bottled water for Finn’s formula so she can hike and get some water from the water pump, 2 miles away from her house. The jugs can hold about 2.5 liters of water and would be her container for their “clean” water. We always have meals included for our help around the house. Belen though saves up snacks and some meals we give her in order to share with her grandchildren when she gets home.
Clean water here from water pumps and faucets aren’t exactly clean. They are infested with e-coli, amoeba, and fecal matter (amongst other things). Belen, like many that work as nannies and housekeepers here in the Philippines, unfortunately do not live in the nicest of areas. They live in the tenement housing areas, where the source of water to drink and cook with not only have the aforementioned, but the water also flows through rusty old pipes. Refrigeration is also another that’s not readily available for a lot of people. If I were to do the ice bucket challenge, I would have to go to the ice plant down town, and buy ice. It’s known knowledge here ice has to be bought, after thinking about it, I felt like a schmuck to just bathe myself with ice water, albeit a fun challenge, when some people in the house with me can only dream to be able to have A.) Clean water to drink, or B.) CLEAN ICE water to enjoy.
So in turn, I choose to just donate to Belen, and also to debra, the foundation of my choice.
I would kill to have ice cold water on me right now, specially with how hot it is, but I’d rather put the money I’d be using on the ice and the water towards helping someone whom I know is in dire need of the money for simple things like clean cold water. I’m not trying to kill the fun. I am loving the videos. I know some friends are waiting for me to do it. If I were stateside, I would have for sure had my husband Brian throw a bucket on me right away. But today, looking at Belen, I feel like a huge jerk to even ask for help to do the ice bucket challenge, or even show what I’m doing.
I told Belen after I wrote this why her pay for yesterday was going to be significantly larger. She first looked at me confused as to why people were dumping buckets of ice on them. Take note that internet, let alone phone lines are not as available for a lot of people in third world countries such as the Philippines, so even thought the challenge has gone viral, she doesn’t really have a way of finding out, nor is it easy to explain in our culture. Once I was done explaining to her that I would rather have the money go towards her and her family, she just about cried tears of happiness. And well, right there, when we help people, is really just enough of a thank you, and enough to complete and end the day on a good note.
I totally have nothing against people that have done it. I honestly wanted to do it. I’m all for good causes. My very best friends have also done it. I just didn’t feel like I’m in the right part of the world, and around people that would appreciate it in the same fashion. I’ve been gone for 13 years, and I’ve only been back home to visit just for the third time since I left. I, like many others, tend to forget the basic conveniences we have in America are things other people in different parts of the world can only dream of. It was just a bit of a wake up call for me to be wiser with how I allocate my funds. It was just nice also to know that instead of dumping clean on water on myself, someone was able to buy themselves some food instead, which Belen told me that since her regular pay from me will buy medicine for the week, the extra can go towards groceries. I live an extremely good life, specially here, and it’s just nice to share the luck in life also, specially for people that work hard.
The challenge has raised amazing amounts for so many deserving organizations, but this is simply just my spin on it. At the end of the day, we helped and made people happy, no matter the method. Good karma all around!