More than 80 volunteers lived up to their motto on Scout Build in Philippines

Scouts from U.S., Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan and the Philippines worked with Habitat families in typhoon-affected community in Cebu

MANILA (April 15, 2016) – For the century-old Scouting movement, Filipino scout Vicente Tudtud has a fresh perspective on its motto. “ ‘Be prepared’ means to be also prepared to help other people.” He was among 83 volunteers from the Asia-Pacific region who took part in the recent Scout Build with Habitat for Humanity Philippines on Bantayan island.

The Scout Build was the first of several in the Asia-Pacific region under a five-year partnership between the World Organization of the Scout Movement and Habitat for Humanity. The Scouts not only contributed to a typhoon-affected community in the Philippines but also supported activities of the Habitat Young Leaders Build campaign in Hong Kong, Nepal and Singapore. In total, more than 2,150 Scouts lent their support to HYLB.

In the Philippines, Scouts from the U.S., Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan joined their local counterparts in working alongside families affected by 2013’s Typhoon Haiyan (local name: Yolanda). From March 28 to April 2, they helped in Habitat for Humanity Philippines’ effort to rebuild houses with more than 300 typhoon-hit families in Sulangan village, Bantayan island.

Vicente Tudtud was not the only one who was prepared to help others. Ryo Kamibayashi from Japan joined the Scout Build because he wanted to do a good deed daily. “If you just do everything for yourself, it is not really helping others. I really want to do something that is about helping others, that is, not benefitting me at all.” When prompted, he admitted that he did gain. “It made me grow. It taught me how to collaborate with other people and the Filipino Scouts and how important it is to help others.”

The Scouts worked alongside each other, relying a lot on non-verbal communication to get the work done. Ry Manuel Guisadio from the Boy Scouts of the Philippines admitted that sometimes, it was hard to communicate because of different accents and the local volunteers switched between English and their own dialects. Ryo chose to use hand gestures to get his message across. “It did work. We were able to finish the task that we were supposed to do.”

Jib Andrei Tampus, another volunteer from the Philippines, liked working with the international volunteers who were very jolly and willing to learn words and phrases in Tagalog and Bisaya. (The former is the Filipino national language while the latter is the local dialect of the Central Visayas region.)

To Chad Copperthite, an American scout based in Taiwan, the build was similar to, yet different from Scouting activities. “It is similar in perspective – we want to help other people as much as we can, and we do not really want to focus on ourselves. It is different in scale – this is way larger than what we could do on our own. With Habitat, we could do so much more, so much quicker, and for so many more people.”

After a week of working under the sun, eating and laughing together, some of the Scout volunteers felt stirring of emotions. “A feeling of being happy,” said John Mark Eramil from the Philippines, because he was able to help people without actually expecting something in return. For Vicente, the Habitat families made his day. “Their smiles were the only thing that warmed our hearts and makes us happy too.”

While Wynn Vincent Brigole knew that he was only building a small part of the house, he saw a bigger picture. “Without that little part, it won’t become a house. Because big things come from small things,” said the Filipino scout.

Chad was reflective when he was asked how he would inspire others to work with Habitat. He imagined himself visiting the Sulangan community 20 years later when he has a family and is established in his career. He mused: “Just think, you took some time out of your life to come here and help someone. If you did not come out and do that, the people here might not have what you have now.”

Summing up his experience, Chad shared: “It is hard to describe but it is a feeling that you did something good that day.”

The Scouts’ connection began in the last three years with Habitat for Humanity programs in Thailand and Nepal partnering with various troops from the Boy Scouts of America in Asia-Pacific. Subsequently, BSA troops from Asia were invited to build homes with families affected by Typhoon Haiyan in northern Cebu island during a special initiative from March to April 2014. Local scouts in Nepal and the Philippines have also been active in supporting Habitat in the past few years.