Badjao sports day at Holy Family Retreat House

By Eimear O’ Kane

Today was an early start, travelling from our host families to Holy Family Retreat House for 9 am. Although getting up at 7.30 am as opposed to the usual 6.30 am rise is considered a lie-in! Getting to live with a host family is a very unique experience that we are lucky to have, however we were all looking forward to going to the Holy Family Retreat House and spending the night there together as a group.

Tug of war at sports day at the Holy Family Retreat Centre

Tug of war at sports day at the Holy Family Retreat Centre

The sports day we organised at Holy Family was scheduled to begin at 10 am. It was being held for the Badjao high school students so the ages ranged from 13-19 years. We were quite nervous about holding a sports day for such a range of age groups however there was no need to feel this way. All of the students arrived with a sense of excitement and a good attitude to match.

We had planned volleyball, basketball and soccer, but to begin we played a few ice breaker activities, with all of the students, teachers and SERVE volunteers as a group. ‘Duck, duck, goose’, ‘fruit salad’ and ‘little white pony’ may be suitable for 8 year olds but we all played the games with the same maturity as a bunch of school kids!

The volunteers split the high school students into 3 groups and played the team games of volleyball and basketball and soccer. After playing for around half an hour in the heat, everyone was glad to take a rest and enjoy each other’s company in the shade.

Before and after lunch, we began to play the ‘fun’ games. All initial politeness was gone and replaced with fierce competitiveness. Each SERVE volunteer was paired up and put in charge if a team for wheel barrow races, 3 legged races, tug of war and water games.  The volunteers and students worked together in order to win at all costs. Solidarity at its best!

By the time it
reached 3pm all of the students, teachers and volunteers were exhausted. Some were also significantly redder than before; a mixture of fair Irish skin being exposed to the sunlight and an intense ‘egg and spoon’ race!

2014 volunteers sharing stories after the sports day in Holy Family Retreat Centre

2014 volunteers sharing stories after the sports day in Holy Family Retreat Centre

To finish the day all of the students were presented with medals and were asked to share with everyone their favourite parts of the day. Although the food was a popular favourite, so was thanksgiving to God for the opportunity to enjoy such a day and getting to know one another. Personally, I found this so different and re

freshing to hear teenagers openly confess their faith and beliefs in front of their peers. It is a stark contrast to home, where teenagers are often nervous about being themselves.

Catriona giving medal (Small)

SERVE Volunteers present medals to the Badjao Students

Although we are here in Cebu to assist the Badjao Community and work with them and help to educate them, it seems that often they can teach us a lot more about life than we have to offer them.