“Y” We Serve: BYU Students Give Community Service in the Philippines

January 20, 2021 04:00 PM

Philippines, 2017 | Sources: BYU students Nolan Harris, Danny Burt, and Mary Griffin; Rosario Dawson, executive director of the Philippines Cancer Society

“The experience at the hospital really touched my heart because those people are in a really difficult situation. For me, growing up, my mom had cancer several times, until it actually claimed her life while I was on my mission here in the Philippines. And so naturally, there’s a lot of emotions for me being here and being in the hospital with those people who are struggling. I hope that we were able to uplift them in some way. The last piece we played, ‘A Child’s Prayer’—I think that piece carries a lot of power with it. Through that piece specifically, we were able to show our love and gratitude and be a conduit hopefully for the love that God has for each of them. ‘The song of the righteous is a prayer unto [God]’ (D&C 25:12). I think words or no words, it carried a lot of power.”
— Nolan Harris, Tuba

“I’m not a doctor. I can’t do anything to fix people’s problems. But for a few minutes, I just tried to be a friend. And they were a friend to me. I got to go up just by myself into a room with six patients. There was nobody filming—it was just me and the patients. And that was the most meaningful experience, person-to-person, on the entire tour. It was just a really special connection.”
— Danny Burt, Trumpet

“I’m so glad that the Brigham Young University Chamber Orchestra came because the patients were there. There were kids, there were adults, there were teenagers. Some of them just couldn’t believe their eyes that they were looking at this orchestra, that it was live, and that it was playing just for them. If you are a patient, from your point of view, it’s like, ‘Hey, they are coming all the way across the ocean just to play for us.’ I thought initially that the kids wouldn’t understand orchestra music, but they were enthralled—I saw them! There were some patients telling me, ‘Can you bring them again next year?’”
— Rosario Dawson, Executive Director, Philippines Cancer Society

“During our orchestra trip to the Philippines, we traveled to Manila. BYU was able to connect our group with the Rise and Rebuild Foundation, which has been around for several years—really since the massive typhoon that came through here [in 2013]. They have been building ‘comfort rooms’ (bathrooms) in communities that have been absolutely decimated by the typhoons. The area of Manila we were in had begun to rebuild a little bit, but they still had the need for these comfort rooms for the kids and for so many people who need them and don’t have access to one in their own homes. They had the bricks all set up, ready for us. So we formed an assembly line and passed the bricks to everyone. It was really fun to work with each other in a different way than we normally do, because we are always performing and working together that way, but not in a get-your-hands-dirty, teamwork kind of way. Working together as an orchestra in that way was a really special experience.”
— Mary Griffin, Violin

“I was up on one of the walls stacking the bricks. I’m really glad we could do something like this project. I’d like to do even more actually, if there’s an opportunity. Music is good for helping lift people’s spirits, but it’s great to do something a little more on-the-ground as well.”
— Danny Burt, Trumpet