Here is the first of our new “Meet the Team” interview series, where we interview members of Young Pioneer Disaster Response to share their story with everyone. Marking our first entry we have invited Joel Trask to take centre stage.
Hi Joel, thanks for taking the time to talk, we know you’re always busy
Sure, no problem, good to get out of the sun for a minute.
Joel, tell us a little about your background
My history? Well, I grew up in the Prairies, that’s central Canada where there’s lots of flat lands. Then moved to the west coast when I was about 12, into a lot of mountains and have lived there ever since. I’ve been working since I was 14 between school. Doing construction, spent my summers doing roofing. Then later after I graduated high school, I started working with my brother on a framing crew and took six months off to travel around Europe, but I’ve been doing framing ever since.
Were you in the Philippines when Typhoon Island hit?
No, I wasn’t. I came here at the end of January. I was in Canada. I had actually planned on coming to the Philippines already before Yolanda. I didn’t want to change my plans when I heard about it, I thought maybe I could do some good. I like to have some purpose to my travel.
How did you hear about YPDR?
I was already on Bantayan Island. I was in a restaurant, actually, when I heard about YPDR. I had come here to help but didn’t know who was here. YPDR was the first place I came to check out, and then I met all the local workers.
How long did you plan to stay here?
Haha, I had no idea! Maybe two weeks; two months. I’ve been here five months now already, so who knows.
What do you do in YPDR?
Right now I’m the Project Manager for the Shelter Project, building houses for our beneficiaries. I’ve done a lot of stuff though since I arrived here. We are at the point where we have five teams s. I used to be the only supervisor out the in field but now we have two local supervisors, so I manage them. I talk to the teams and go on site, do quality control; make sure the buildings are following our plans properly. We have a lumber yard now, so have been training up the new supervisors for there. Always busy, something to do.
What’s one of your favourite aspects to the work you are doing here?
Probably the beach. No I’m just kidding. It’s working with all the local guys. I started out side by side swinging a hammer with all of them. I’ve become good friends with all of them, I know all their families; their kids and wives. Made some lifelong friends, for sure.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m kind of just going with the wind right now, you know? If an opportunity comes up to help somewhere else, maybe go and do that. Travel more. But the Philippines is a second home now, here on Bantayan, so I’ll be back for sure.
Great, well thats it, thanks for introducing yourself Joel, keep up the good work.
Yeah, no worries. That was easy.
For our second interview, please check back here in a week to meet another member of the YPDR family.