A Big Brother in Any Language
By Allen Allnoch
Manila, Philippines is a long way from Fair Oaks, California, and the Tagalog language common to Manila is, well, quite foreign to an American like Jason Chappell.
Jason only recently arrived from Fair Oaks as a new staffer at ER’s Manila Children Home, but he’s already learned one important term.
“The main thing I am to these boys is kuya, which is a term here that means ‘older brother,’ says Jason. “This one thing has been the best thing I could ask for – I have ten younger brothers! As the baby of my family, I would have loved to have a younger brother, and now I have ten.”
Jason’s move to Manila grew out of a series of short-term trips through ER. The first was in 2008, when he helped a team from his church, Sunrise Community, serve at ER’s Christmas Celebrations.
Right away he sensed a stirring to return, and he went back again in 2010 and 2012. After that third trip, he set his sights on serving long-term with ER and began raising support funds over the next 2-½ years.
Now he’s living in Manila, working part-time in the Extreme Response Asia Children’s Home and going to language school full-time, which ultimately will help him serve more effectively in the home.
“Without knowing the language, I have found it is almost impossible to tell the kids what they should be doing or not doing,” Jason says
Still, some things transcend language. In his first three months, he says, he has served as “a nurse for scratches, a chair and jungle gym for the boys, a tutor in math and a teacher of chess.”
He’s also volunteering with a local ER partner that works with children in poor communities.
“Seeing the staff show love to these children, and being a part of it all, has been another highlight of my first three months here,” he says. “Each time I am able to go see the kids, I am able to speak more in their language, and it means so much to me and them to have that connection.”
Connection … relationship … personal touch … kuya. Those are the kind of things that help ER so effectively serve people in extreme circumstances. Even in a country that’s still largely unfamiliar to him, Jason Chappell is excelling at just that.
ER offers a number of ways to serve, both short-term and long-term, and from home or abroad. Visit extremeresponse.org/take-action/serve-with-us to learn more.