Sweeping support

Julie McGowan at one of the orphanages in Mindoro.

It wasn’t just the wind, it was also the water, and it surged throughout the city. After Tacloban had been hit by Typhoon Haiyan, Julie McGowan was one of many who helped rebuild the community.

“I was thrown into this major disaster zone where I had to drag rubbish off the streets,” says Julie.

“It changed my life that first trip, and after that week, from what I saw, I came back a completely different person.”

The Tauranga artist, who at the time lost her job, decided to fly across the world to give back to a third world country.

“The first time I went I was meant to go a Chinese orphanage,” explains Julie, “but it all fell through and I ended up with $2000 that I had raised for a ticket that I didn’t know what to do with anymore.

“I contacted the Ruel Foundation and they have an orphanage in Mindoro in the Philippines, so I ended up going there for six weeks.”

While she was there she painted two murals and worked with the kids, doing eight-hour shifts at a orphanage.

From that moment Julie was hooked. She once again flew to the Philippines for two weeks, this time with her husband, using her own money for the plane flight and fundraising for extra supplies to help out the community, such as, families in the hospital and supplies to build new roofs.

Now Julie is in the process of planning her third trip to Mindoro.

“People often ask why I go during my holiday and why I don’t go to some tropical island instead,” she says.

"I do it becuase it brings so much joy to the children and the community- even the smallest things are appreciated.

“It was such an experience. I would recommend it to everyone.”

To help Julie and her contribution to Ruel Foundation, either make a donation via: www.ruelfoundation.com or contact Julie on: 027 3244266.