TEXT & PHOTOGRAPHY BY DEREK CLARK
Eight thousand miles of planes, trains and automobiles and I was back in the Philippines after five long years. My task was to visit and photograph the children at two SOS Children’s Villages, the first in Cebu and the second in Davao. I had no idea what to expect and as I walked through the main gates I realized that once again the camera, that little box with a piece of glass stuck on the front, had taken me to another place that I would never experience otherwise. It’s the best part of being a photographer and I’m so grateful for it. It’s been an honour and a privilege to have shot some of the things I have, and standing at those gates, I knew I was about to embark on something very special.
SOS is an organization that gives homes to orphaned and underprivileged kids in some of the world’s poorest countries. They build villages with homes for these children, look after and educate them until they are ready to go out into the world and have careers and families of their own. Each house has a mother (Nanay) who looks after the children that live there (sometimes as many as 14). There are eight children’s Villages in Philippines and I wish I could have visited them all.
At SOS Cebu I met kids as young as five years old all the way up to teenagers. My guide for the day was the very helpful Migueliza (known as Megs) and I couldn’t have wished for anyone more helpful. The children were all so friendly and I got the feeling they really enjoy having visitors in their village. There were smiles and tears and the children asked me as many questions as I asked them. I’m glad to say the experience has been etched inside my head.
Please take a minute or two to visit the SOS websites and see the latest news.
Update - Nov 12th 2013:
Typhoon Haiyan hit Cebu 4 days ago. At this point I believe all children and staff are safe, although there is some damage to the village. SOS Children's Village in Tacloban was hit the hardest, but again I believe that everyone is safe.