Dane Becker, a 19-year-old Kelowna man, is in the Philippines working without pay for a disaster relief agency helping Filipinos recover from last month's typhoon.
Dane Becker, 19, told his family he felt compelled to assist Filipinos in dealing with the aftermath of last month's devastating typhoon, which killed at least 6,100 people, with more than 1,700 others listed as missing. It damaged or swept away more than a million homes and injured 27,000 people.
"He said, 'I'm young, I'm healthy. I think I can help, so I should help,'" his mom, Colleen Becker, said Saturday.
Becker works without pay six days a week for a disaster relief organization called All Hands Volunteers. He's part of a deconstruction team tasked with clearing up badly damaged homes and shops, salvaging whatever has value and making the site ready for rebuilding.
"There's a lot of hard, physical labour involved, because they don't have any heavy equipment available to them," his mom said. "But Dane's just loving it, because he can see the difference all the cleanup work will make to people's lives."
After graduating from OKM Secondary in Kelowna in 2012, Becker worked for 1.800.Got.Junk before setting off on his travels around the world. Local franchise operator Yoree Grozenok says he's not surprised Becker volunteered to help with recovery efforts in the Philippines.
"He's got great work ethics, a mature nature and a very outgoing spirit," Grozenok said. "He's a great team member with a big heart . . . he is one of the kindest people I know."
Becker works mainly in a remote area of the Philippines with no Internet access. On his day off, he usually travels to a town with Wi-Fi service so he can communicate with his family in Kelowna.
Saturday was Colleen's 49th birthday, and she awoke to receive a short video message in which her son and some young Filipino children were singing Happy Birthday to her.
Colleen will meet her son for a vacation in Thailand in January. After that, Dane will head back to continue his volunteer work in the Philippines.
She says her son doesn't yet know what kind of career he wants to pursue: "This may be all part of helping him find that out."