Day 6 – Part III – Visiting Avanai Community

It’s January 1st, 2014 and we’ve already had a jam packed day.  We spent the whole morning playing with the kids at the St. Martin de Porres Orphanage.  In the afternoon our eyes were really opened  as we visited the slums of Smokey Mountain.

Now we are on our way to the build site where last year’s group did their construction.

We are immediately greeted with warm hugs right when we get off the bus
It truly felt like we were coming home from a year long journey
Looking down these streets brought back so many memories
This community has always made us feel welcomed from day 1
We were greeted with waving flags and music.
The houses we helped construct last year are now completely finished and they looked awesome.  The first thing that popped in my head was, “Wow, I painted that house.”
01 - Intros
We introduce ourselves to the community. After each introduction I can hear the people say, “She looks like Hilary, or she reminds me of Andrea (who were student leaders from last year’s group)
The children perform a song and dance for us called “Community”
Student leaders join in the dance


Student leaders now perform their own dance to Black Eyed Peas “I got a feeling”
This picture shows you how many people came out to see us
During the last part of the dance we get the kids involved with us
Now it’s time to teach them the dance
Nicole and Erica teach them step by step
We also taught them a dance last year
Even the adults got involved
A couple of more steps to learn
These kids were talented dancers
Even this little baby got into the action
After teaching them all the steps, we ran it from the top with music
Immediately after the song we jumped right into “Follow da Leader” lead by Britishawna
“Wave your hands in the air, left, right”
Daniel leads the next soca song called JUMP bringing Caribana to the Philippines!
“This music is called the Cha Cha Slide”
Lindsay can get too low because of her skirt 🙂
Next song is YMCA
Britishawna shows her dance partner how to do the “Y”
This is how you do the “M” (British, you should show Lindsay too) 🙂
Next letter is “C” – people are always confused which way to do the “C” 🙂
The last letter is “A” like this
We go onto Sugar Hill Gang’s Jump on it – It’s like iLITE all over again
Last song we dance to is “What does the fox say?”
The kids yell, “Ding ding ding ding ding di-ding di-ding”
We go down in anticipation of the song’s climax – “The secret of the fox, ancient mystery….”
Next we get into small group games
First we learn each other’s names. “Ako si Danielle.”
The next game we play is Duck Duck Goose as Kyla-anne races back to her spot
We broke up the kids into 3 small groups as the adults cheered them on during the games
Next game was Huckle Buckle
Lindsay is either dancing or saying, “Huckle buckle, elbow to knee”
I guess it was “elbow to foot” 🙂
“Huckle buckle nose to knee”
Huckle Buckle ear to ear
The next game we played was pass the squeeze. So much easier to explain than last year now that we know how to say “squeeze” in Tagalog.  Last year we were struggling to find the proper translation
We then gave out toothbrushes to all the participants.  We thank Danielle’s school for doing a school collection for all these toothbrushes
Now that the road is paved, we are able to have piggyback races
Each student leader gets a chance to race
Britishawna wins the race
Everyone is having so much fun!  We’re all winners!
Spectators cheer on the next racers
Up next, we have the teachers, Danielle, Michael, and Lindsay
On your mark, get set……
Michael and Lindsay are neck and neck with a photo finish
After the races, we sit back down for some more performances
Now it’s the adults turn to perform a dance for us
The adults perform 2 dances for us
Student leaders join them on the dance floor
Erica also performs a song for everyone
The kids perform another amazing dance for us
We all jump in again
We were astonished at how amazing they were
We teach them the Waving Flag Dance
And then get into the Bird Dance
Adults and children all the do dance
Time for a snack
But before we eat, we take time to say thanks to the Lord our God
The community remembered that “banana cue” was our favourite from last year
“Banana cue” (banana BBQ) is made from a Philippine banana called saba
Saba is very similar to plantain but much smaller
After snack, we played Philippines vs. Canada basketball
The ballers here have skills
As it got dark, it got harder to see the ball

Now back to the build site for some final goodbyes and picture taking.  Below are some pictures for last year’s group to reminisce about.  They wanted me to tell you that they greatly miss you and will remember you forever.

You will definitely remember the faces below.

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They gave us all a calendar to take home with us

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The kids made us promise that we’ll come back one day before we leave for Toronto on Jan. 8th.  It was impossible to say no.

This year’s group commented on how amazing and welcoming this community was and realized why we fell in love with them last year.

Tomorrow is day 1 at our new build site.  We look forward to creating bonds as strong as were created in 2012-13.

Thanks for following.  Please write your comments below.

16 thoughts on “Day 6 – Part III – Visiting Avanai Community

Add yours

  1. Again and again, amazing!

    Peace and Hope, Steve De Quintal Teacher, Bishop Marrocco / Thomas Merton CSS, 1515 Bloor St. W. Toronto, Ontario M6P-1A3. 416-393-5545 ext. 84293 “To think, to pray and to serve.” “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow mindedness. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of people and things cannot be acquired by vegetating on a little corner of the earth all ones lifetime.” – Mark Twain ****You can always email but a call or a visit will get a quicker response*****


  2. All these photos make me wanna cry! I recognize so many faces and I miss them incredibly much. I can’t believe some of them remember me. :’) I wish you all safety and incredible memories at the new buildsite guys! (:

  3. The community of Avanai is amazing! The atmosphere is positive and welcoming. The kids are full of contagious joy! I really enjoyed the program that they put together, they worked so hard. I think i can say ive formed some great relationships with some of the children and parents.

  4. Danielle Hyles-Rainford from Mike’s computer. We really felt the love at Avanai! Our group of high school students showcased their talents and compassion for the children and families at Avanai. The children and mothers at Avanai prepared a dance for us, and shared traditional Filipino food. This was a heartwarming experience, I will never forget.

  5. These kids were so great! The houses that last year’s group built look amazing and even better with happy families in them. We visited Avanai a second time today and it was even more difficult to leave than last time. I made sure to tell them that last year’s group misses them and sends all their love!

  6. I really enjoyed going to visit last years build site. I can see that there was a lot of preparation put into this day. The kids and adult dances were amazing. The leaders and I kept singing and dancing to the community song that’s how catchy it was. I loved the banana cue!

  7. Avanai is probably one of the best communities we have visited so far. All that time and effort they put into making us feel welcome and at home definitely helped in making my experience there one I will never forget. Between singing and dancing to their “Community” song, teaching them our own I Gotta Feeling Dance and other dances, and all those games and piggy back races, it is safe to say that i was EXHAUSTED…. but I barely noticed my exhaustion as I was having loads of fun with the children.

  8. awwww I miss them soooo much! I recognize the kids and I felt soooo sad. I just miss them so much. That song doe. Haha it’s good to see all of you are enjoying this awesome opportunity (I love the bus you guys have). Hey Mike, hope you found the kid I told you about in Avanai. Anyway, work hard and I will see you all back in Canada soon!

  9. this pictures are making me cry my eyes out i miss them SOOOOOOOOO much 😦 but its good to see that they are all happy and well .The houses look sooooo amazing toooo! Hope this group does an fanatic job at there site as well 🙂 and mike tell Erica i said heyy!!!!!!

  10. Avanai was probably one of the most welcoming communities. Everyone there was so happy, kind and caring. It was great to see all the children with smiles on their faces as we played with them. Knowing that it was the build site at which last year’s group built at and seeing the finished product, got me really excited to start working.

  11. I specifically loved the energy from the community!! Everyone was singing, dancing and having fun. It seemed like they had no worries and we grateful for everything they have. Seeing the special performances were very entertaining and made my jaw hurt from smiling so much. I will never forget the community song… “It’s you. It’s you. It’s you who builds community…” They just were all bundles of energy and I will miss them so much. We had to ask Mike to visit a second time because they were so great. I wish them well.

  12. AVANAAAAIIIII!! This group was something else. You can’t explain how amazing this community was. They were welcoming, organized and sooo kind. Right when we got to the site, they were in unison welcoming us. They were so uplifting! Everyone in the community came to see us and the event they had prepared for us. Being there and the event that was planned by the community went so smoothly and I was amazed at how much effort they put into this one event just for us. I felt so much love, especially from my little friend Ryzza! She was sooo cute and I couldn’t have asked for a better friend. Being with this community was such a blessing!! ❤

  13. The warm welcome we received from Avanai was something to remember. All the kids had big smiles on their faces and they taught us a song that was always stuck in our heads. Seeing the cute houses they built last year made me excited for us to start building. Dancing with them was so much fun and their enthusiasm was contagious. The whole event the community planned for us was very thoughtful and they made us feel like celebrities. I’m going to miss them all!

  14. From the moment we got off that bus, you could really feel the love from the people of Avanai. The community was kind, caring and energetic! They really put a lot of effort on this day with their amazing singing and dances. I had a blast playing with these kids. Seeing what last years group has built got me pumped for our build!

  15. I LOOOVE AVANAI! omg they’re all so amazing and welcoming and I really love how they put so much effort into the program that they prepared for us. I enjoyed the performance that the mommies did when they danced to Whoops Kiri! Hahaha that’s Jairuz’ and I’s dance!! I also met Nicole, who’s like a mini me. We had a lot of things in common and I’m really glad I met her. Everyone was asking for pictures nonstop! We truly felt like celebrities and I couldn’t stop smiling at all. I’m glad I met everyone else there, and I’m glad that we found time to visit last year’s build site. I didn’t want to leave, knowing we won’t come back to visit them soon!

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