As this semester comes to close, I realized that I’ve been dreading to go back to the community When I pondered why that was the case, it only made me sadder. I didn’t want to leave my family and my home for a month, not when the days we’ll be living together under that house are numbered. We are set to move into another house sometime soon and I wanted to be with my family. It only made me sadder when I found out they’ll be moving our departure date to a later day, the day before my 22nd birthday. I thought to mysel8f, “This will be the saddest birthday ever” since I’ll be far from family and my other close friends. I pushed that thought aside and kept thinking positively. A day before my birthday, some of my closest friends surprised me with a cake and a calligraphy set! I was ecstatic! I didn’t expect some people would bother preparing a surprise for me when they’re all too busy preparing for our month long trip. I was touched and happy.
More hurdles came along as I felt the all too familiar pain starting at my lower back and lower abdomen. We were still on the bus going to Sinai when I can’t deny the unmistaken sensation I was feeling at that time. I had my period early. It was fine if I got it early. What made it not fine was the pain though it wasn’t new to me. I always get cramps but having them on a bus ride for 9 hours was not fun at all. What made matters worse was the fact that when we get to our house at Sinai, we won’t be able to sit pretty and relax because we’d have to clean the whole house! When we arrived, we drew lots to see who’ll clean which part of the house and with whom. I got the boy’s room with Denzel. I was moody and tired. I wanted to clean myself up already but the public comfort rooms we are using every time we stay there were so dirty you could barely recognize it as a comfort room for people, what, with all the goat poop lodged everywhere. You ca just imagine how smelly it was. It was a good thing I was not assigned there.
Kim came a day later than us because she’ll be brought by her family. Then I was surprised when my groupmates gave me cake and sang Happy Birthday to me. Eli and Yen also came and gave me gifts. All in all, it wasn’t a bad birthday after all.
The first week came by so slow but shockingly the next weeks passed by like a blur. It was so fast. Maybe because we were having so much fun. It is because of my groupmates that I began to look forward for meals because we’ll be laughing and joking and basically every meal was memorable, full of de amor!
This exposure was also different because the people already, somewhat, knew us. I got closer to my “family” in Sinai because David, the eldest son, always came by our house and play with us. I sometimes let him write his name on a paper or let him draw. He’s just 4 years old but the way he speaks is so cute, you’ll think he is old and matured but still, he couldn’t get in his slippers the right way. We also made friends with my neighbor’s baby, Ina, who shakes her bum every time we wave at her from a far. She’s about 2 years old and a little bit of a diva. Then there’s Anna Grace, the youngest daughter of our barangay secretary. She comes by whenever her mom is working and plays with David most of the time. She’s in first grade and prefers to play with her mom’s cellphone most of the time. Then of course, I won’t forget Justin, the half German kid who really got close to us all. He’s 11 years old and doesn’t have any siblings. He prefers to just hang out with us. The night before we went home, he stayed with us and tried to stay awake but we let him sleep even if he still wanted to play and bond with us. These kids are just some of the ones who made this exposure more memorable. I wouldn’t forget Lito the artist, Madeline the beauty and brains, Pierson the joker and CJ the reliable one. We had movie marathons, art sessions and games, it was really fun having them around. There was a time when I went to David’s house to talk with his mother when I saw how stressed she is with his 3 sons, now that she gave birth to another one, Jay Jay, so close to the age of his younger son Ton Ton. They were both breastfeeding on her and I saw how Rose, the mom, was struggling so I volunteered to take David and Ton Ton out for a while, just to give her a breather. We bonded and Kim and I bought them food. By then end of the day, Ton Ton does not want to leave my side anymore, he cried when I left him back at his mother’s house and he keeps calling me “nanay”. I jokingly told my groupmates that maybe it’s my calling to be a pediatrician but they laughed and said no, and insisted it was calling to be a mother.
The days flew by so fast. I didn’t even get to call my mother the way I wanted to, which was every day. Maybe because I was also scared to know what’s happening. This community exposure was my one shot at “vacation” and de-stressing out from med school. Even if this is still part of our requirements and we had a lot of work to do, still it was better than the pressure of passing exam after exam. Speaking of exam, I had my very first R1, Gastrointestinal. That means I would have to study in the community alongside the projects and classes we were conducting for the people of Sinai. I wasn’t alone on this, both fortunately and unfortunately. There were five of us who failed this exam and we helped each other remember stuff by asking questions to each other.
All in all, I really had fun in this exposure, it’s the best one yet! I finally learned that, a house is a material thing. Insignificant, temporary, replaceable. But the people I love? No. They are the ones who make a house, a home. Home is where your heart is. Home is the people you love. They make a house, a home. And these 7 people? They made Sinai my second home. When I boarded the bus going back to Zamboanga, I looked back at Sinai and said “I’ll be back” and I know, once we come back for our next exposure, when I will go down the bus, I’ll say “I’m finally, home.”