I live at the Yun Jin Lyso Ministry Center (YMC for short). I live ten minutes from the nearest mall and nearest starbucks. There's a mini stop convenient store less than a mile from my door, and several "sari sari" convenient stores less than 30 yards away. The movies, malls, bowling centers, spas, and grocery stores are all within a short driving distance from where I call home. I live in a city and access to "things" is pretty easy.
Which sometimes makes it hard to remember what else is right outside the door. I live in the Cuatro Community, named so for the location alongside the 4th hole of a neighboring golf course. Cuatro is home to 5,000 people (and no, it's not that big of an area.) Those 5,000 people live in about 800ish homes, packed in to little shanty houses like sardines. They live in the dirt, they sleep in the dirt, and they don't have three hot meals waiting for them throughout the day.
This morning, Manny, a young boy that has heavily weighed on my heart since I came here, was found wandering around by one of our teachers at the school, when he himself was supposed to be in class up at the CCC, our other school location. We brought him inside and asked him why he wasn't at school. One of the common excuses we hear from students-- his uniform was dirty, so he couldn't go to class.
Manny is 7 years old. And as I look into his story more and more, it feels as though it keeps getting more and more hopeless. Manny is the eldest of his siblings. He has a 6 year old sister and a 3 year old brother. Either both his parents are dead, or the the mother is dead and the father leaves Monday through Friday to go to work in another province, we have heard both stories and are not sure which is the truth yet. Regardless, this little boy is 7 years old, trying to take care of his siblings, trying to be the man in the family, while only just a little boy himself. He collects paper and plastic at the school each day to turn into the recycling center for money. A large bag will get him 10 pesos, or about a quarter. He told us he needed to get money to buy rice for the family.
My heart breaks for this boy. I want more for him than how he is living right now. I want him to be a kid and for an adult to do the providing and the caring. I want him to continue going to school, to learn English, continue on to college, and go places in this life! I want him to come to church and bible class on Sundays, to learn about God the Father, who is the Father figure he has never known but always needed, the Father that won't let him down and will always be there for him. I want him to have three meals a day, vitamins to keep him healthy, strong and sturdy teeth, and a place that he can feel safe each night.
What can I do for Manny? Or Angela? Sunshine and Sanjie and their family? For Pin? These are just a few of the many kids that need help. What can I do to help them? How can I help to break them out of this cycle that they are in?
When my time in Manila has come to an end, and I go back to my home in California, Manny WILL NOT be in the exact same place as when I came. Though at times I feel helpless, and the situation feels hopeless, something will change. It has to.