Today is Sunday. We headed out to another feeding site somewhere in the Manilla suburbs. I wasn’t expecting too much because I had already been to two dumps and was floored by the level of poverty and the living conditions both times. I didn’t think it could get any worse. I would be in for another surprise. We drive for awhile though thick congested traffic and then take a right turn down an alley. The surrounding houses look pretty good. It’s always like this. The surrounding houses don’t look any different, then you go for a short little walk and you enter into the world where children are living in the shadows.
We went to see Raymond Japanese at one of the RSM feeding sites. Raymond had tuberculosis when he was a child. He is 17 now. His mother threw him in a dumpster and left him for dead as a child, because she could not afford the medicine for his cure. Another woman found him in the dumpster and rescued him. She was able to get him the proper medicine through the RSM feeding site. Raymond lived to tell his story. And he told it for the first time to Jerry and me in his native tongue of Tagolog. Before this he could not tell his story without having a mental breakdown because of the trauma. His adopted mother sat with him. She was so overwhelmed that she could barely speak and continued to cover her face because all she could do was cry and get out a few words of why she adopted Raymond. The other mothers watching all had tears in their eyes.
I told you that I was in for a surprise. Well Raymond wanted to show us where he lived. We were in one of those shanty compounds. From the air it looks like a bunch of little rusty tin roofs all cluttered together next to a nice area of homes. These are squatters. People from the countryside or from wherever that come to Manilla to try and make a living.
There is hardly a living to be made. These people go out and collect plastic bottles to sell to the recycler for a few cents. A good day is 150 pesos x $.024 = $3.60. That’s what they have to feed a family on for the day. Can you see why kids are malnourished or starving? We take a little walk to see Raymond’s house. I thought it might be like one of the 8 x 8 concrete compounds we were next to. If you look at Manila on google maps and turn on the arial view, you will see all these walls separating the shanties from the nice houses.
We start walking along one of these walls of seperation with a drainage ditch 20 feet below. The water looks polluted and parts of the ditch are filled with garbage. We walked for 150 yards along the curving path. It smells of sewage, garbage and swine. We come upon this little rope bridge that looks pretty dangerous I watch Raymond cut across the bridge and go into this little shack made out of blue tarp, cardboard and sticks . It looks like it would blow over in the smallest of breezes. I realize that this is his home. I am given permission to go across and photograph the inside of his house. Folks, an ice fishing house in MN would be more comfortable and roomy and would be considered a Hilton Hotel compared to this.
Outside, there are skinny, dirty, naked kids running around. I have never seen such a sight. I feel like I am a National Geographic photographer that gets to show the world a secret civilization. A part of me aches inside as I shoot photographs and movies. I am the honored one to get to show a story that is never told in America. In fact, a story that is not even told in the Philippines. These places are rarely seen even by the people that live in the Philippines. These are the places only the missionaries go.
I look back along the path where I had just traversed. A girl is washing dishes down in the ditch where a pipe is shooting out dirty gray water. The water does not look safe to use.
I think about why there are the malnourished and starving poor. I determine that the Good Lord has given us these poor, starving “forgotten ones” so that we may practice the Gospel of “feed the hungry and clothe the naked.” His light is illuminating these secret dark places of despair for us to see. A secret place where children are living in the shadows. click to watch Raymond the movie