Ati payday for hard work, and a personal note

hilda and her daughter at the chicken coop work site

Last Updated on July 5, 2023 by Ellen

Saturday was Ati payday for chicken coop work, and this week, we were extra grateful for donations because we had 43 people working! There were some women on the payroll, as well.

There were many smiles at the work site in Malay, Aklan, Panay Island in the Philippines. Dozens of Ati – indigenous tribe members – worked hard all week. But it was more than just a payday. I witnessed pride and joy over their ongoing accomplishments.

Ati payday

Payday takes some preparation because we pay the Ati in small bills. If you’ve ever lived paycheck to paycheck, you can understand. Small bills help.

Also, I like to prepare snack bags. When I first met some Ati people on the beach several weeks ago, they were hungry. I watched a few young men eat small, raw fish from the community net. And I couldn’t stop thinking about them.

This week’s snack bags featured dried fish, peanuts, six-packs of dinner rolls.

The thing is: we have to carry it all up to the Ati worksite on the mountain. There is no road to the worksite, and there is no electricity up there — yet. I don’t complain. I gladly do it, even though I’m out of shape. Snack bags don’t weigh too much. Nothing like what the young men haul up the mountainside — cement bags, sand, lumber, cinder blocks — all supplies for the hen house.

Ellen carries a sack of snacks up the mountain, followed by three Ati men with heavy sacks of building supplies on their shoulders.

Chicken coop update

I will leave the technical stuff to Tedly, since he is up on the mountain almost every day. With a hematoma on the back of my thigh for three weeks from a stupid fall, I’ve only been trekking up the mountain once a week. But I can report a fair amount of progress has been made since last week; also, a lot more needs to be done.

At the end of the work day, I got a tour of the work site with Mom Diane, Tedly’s mother.

Mom Diane looks at the chicken coop on a worksite tour at the end of the day on Ati payday

Work site tour

Overall the rebuilding effort looks great to a lay person like me. But even Mom Diane – who’s been around the world and has much more experience in rural areas than me – was impressed. As Tedly previously reported, the roof looks beautiful. I’d only add this: there are plastic covered ‘slats’ in the roof to let in natural light. Smart!

The structure is built into the mountain side. The back wall is along solid earth, and the front is open to the jungle. The back wall is stabilized with boards. The chicken coop that was destroyed by the typhoon in December 2019 was a free-standing structure. I think their new location is smart.

the back of the ati chicken coop is braced against the mountainside with several boards, including one pictured here

The septic area is currently being installed, which is important for environmental regulations.

Also, the hen house is not yet fully constructed as evidenced by boards, cinder blocks, and other building supplies stacked up at the site.

ati payday included a work site tour, and in this picture you see cinder blocks and boards piled up for construction work next week.

The project is a source of pride. During our site tour, a woman said, “Ati construction!” and she beamed with a wide smile. As the Kiva saying goes, “Dreams are Universal. Opportunity is Not.” And so again, thank you everyone for your donations to help us see this through.

This hen house project, along with some other ongoing projects we are sponsoring, hopefully will help the Ati re-attain a measure of self-sufficiency they so obviously desire.

Personal note

Someone said to me they could not wait for a day to end, because they didn’t like someone else’s attitude. It’s so sad this friend wished away a day of life because they were unhappy with another person. I hope my friend sorts it out. I’ve found, personally, happiness is an inside job. And we breast cancer survivors are keenly aware earthly life is limited.

Tomorrow (June 28) is two years since I was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. In the last two years, I’ve done a lot of thinking, praying, meditating, reading, on life and death and what it all means. In that time, I have never “wished away” a day – no matter how bad my day was.

I sure do have my moments, where I get upset, uncomfortable, inconvenienced, down. My life is far from perfect. Still, it’s mine, and I love every day. I truly believe that Life Is Now. It’s not just a slogan for me.

On my two-year cancer anniversary (“cancerversary”, as we survivors call it), I’m going to do something that makes me happy — something that makes me comfortable and calm to celebrate life and the health I do have.

selfie of ellen


I have mostly enjoyed robust health, until a few setbacks over the last few years. Chikungunya, breast cancer and a double mastectomy in a foreign country, broken ribs, aggravated broken ribs, now a hematoma on my back thigh. Side effects of the cancer prevention drug tamoxifen sometimes affect my quality of life.

But these are nothing in the grand scheme of things. I know I am one of the ‘haves’ of the world. It’s not lost on me.

I see the Ati men carrying supplies, barefoot, on a dirt trail with sharp rocks, sticks, and mud, to a work site where they are rebuilding a chicken coop so they can earn a few cents per egg, once the hens start laying – which likely will take another month or more.

The Ati are some of the have-nots on Earth, and I’m happy we can share some of the world’s wealth with them.

ati men carry building supplies uphill

Thanks for reading, “Ati payday for hard work, and a personal note.”

TO ALL FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTORS: Please forward us your email address if you would like a weekly update with more ‘inside information’ and photos of the Ati projects in coming months. Over that time, we will also distribute ‘thank you’ photos as promised. Your contact info will be kept private – and no spam.

2 thoughts on “Ati payday for hard work, and a personal note”

  1. Congratulations on the cancerversary (cancer’s butt is still smarting from the kicking it got), and on the progress on the henhouse! Both are amazing!

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