Sunday, December 13, 2015

Living Leyte People Features: Jane Coughlin, All Hands Volunteer

NAME:  Jane Coughlin
AGE: 24
Originally from: Winnipeg, Canada

Sweet Canadian Jane is very affable. Her eyes shine very bright when she talks about anything, to me it signifies that the cup of her life here on Earth runneth over. This All Hands volunteer who in her own words has "no hurry" to complete college genuinely loves our island town and even has intentions of living here sometime in the future. That is very good news for us and here’s why.

LL: Jane, thanks for agreeing to this interview. Could you please describe the place and vibe where you come from?
JC: It’s ridiculously cold where I come from, it goes to extremes of negative 50 degrees in the winter to plus 40 in the summer. Where I come from has a small town feel but it has 800 thousand people. It’s like at the cusp of being a big city, it has neat coffee shops, different restaurants, underground music scene, the art scene is cool but we are shut in (our houses) 6 months out of the year.

LL: What was your life like before you came?
JC: I was in school for my undergrad, my major is in Microbiology, I have been at it for six to seven years already because I am also working full time. I was in insurance for years, I also did bar tending. I decided to have fun jobs for a while.
LL: Are you completing college as a working student?
JC: That and I have bursary.
LL: What’s a bursary? Is it like grants for students?
JC: Yes, they are the same.
LL: Are you going to be a doctor?
JC: Yes, my sister who is practicing Naturopathic Medicine is already a doctor.
LL: Is Naturopathic Medicine like Homeopathy?
JC: It’s more than that, there are additional certifications for it.
LL: It would be great if you practiced medicine here.
JC: I was discussing this with my sister that if she wanted to extend her Naturopathic practice here like in an international capacity, that would be good.

LL: What's your impression of our place?
JC: I am absolutely in love with Tacloban, I love the people. (Like Rosie Alberio, Jane is working on a project with Street Lights in the Tagpuro area). We went to the sea side of the Tagpuro area there one time, we spent time with the people and other volunteers there and it went far as us having a had blood pact where we promised that we would come back to live here. We already have a panday (carpenter), a contractor and so on! One of the girls who were with us already opened up a Facebook Page about coming back to live here, she’s serious, it’s like, “This is really happening.” *laughs excitedly.

LL: How did you end up volunteering here?
JC: I was traveling and I met this girl in Cebu, I told her that I was going to Australia but I had no where to go for a few days before my flight. Then we got into volunteering, she encouraged me to go to Leyte, I was supposed to be here only for five working days, but by day two, I extended immediately. I have now forfeited my plane ticket to Australia.

LL: What pivotal moment made you choose to become a volunteer/aid worker?
JC: Back home I have already volunteered in several places. I have always volunteered because one does this in high school. My grandma was sick with cancer for 1 year and I took care of her. She was my best friend growing up. She was the hardest working woman in the community and to see her not to be able to do anything for herself was heartbreaking.  I was so sad when she died so I volunteered in cancer centers, and I always wanted to do oversees volunteering. 

LL: Has your experiences here affected or changed you as a person? And do you think that your experience here will be useful for you in the future?
JC: Yeah, I don’t think you can be here and do what we are doing and not be affected. People we work with, I actually have love for them, and people from Tacloban just open up to us. I was shown images from the typhoon (Haiyan), seeing the images, it’s one of the craziest things, there was so much to be done. The resiliency (of the people) is incredible.

LL: Do you consider yourself as an activist or an advocate?
JC: Advocate.

LL: Given all that has happened in the world, the news we see, the political and religious wars between countries, ideologies, terrorism and the natural disasters which we cannot control. Do you feel there is hope for the future of our planet?
JC: Yes, If you’ve been here and you see how people keep enduring, there’s hope. The human spirit is cool, when people keep trying that’s when you have something better for the future.

LL: Given an opportunity to resolve one global issue or conflict happening in the world right now,  which one would you take a gander at?
JC: I don’ think I can pick one because it’s a chain reaction of everything. I think if you fix one, you'll fix everything.

LL: Apart from volunteer work or being an aid worker, what’s the next best thing that makes you eloquent or effusive with words?
JC: Animals, I love animals. Back home I foster cats, dogs and other animals. I get them when they are babies and when they open up their eyes, I am the first person they see, I am their mummy.  I also love to travel, I am an "experience seeker" and I like the countries that have great cultural backgrounds like India, Africa. 

LL: What’s next for you?
JC: Australia. 

LL: Wanna play one-word-answer questions and Bonus Q?
JC: Sure.
Moon or Sun?  Sun
Monochrome or Colored?  Color
Iceland or Australia?  Iceland
Fútbol or Football?  Soccer
Coffee or Tea?  Tea
Eagle or Dolphin? Eagle

Bonus Q: If you were given the power to spend 2 hours with someone who has passed on, who would it be and why?
JC: My grandma Lina (pronounced Lye-na), I want to chat with her about so many things. There are also a few people I want her to meet.

As we finish, Jane with her co-volunteer friend Rosie say goodbye and I feel that we are blessed to have everyone that has ever come to help us not only to rebuild, but also that they immersed themselves with our lives here in Leyte. I  hope we have a great and positive impact on them just as they have done with us.

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