By Mike Garner
The work of training young persons to actively bring a spiritually liberating message of God’s love for the world is my joy. Christianity has often failed to ‘love the world’ as God does. God’s love for the world is an authentic attachment to his work. The salvation of the world is God’s work in the present, to deny God’s concern for the present is to fail to love the world. Christ’s work of liberation continues through his ‘body’ and his preferential option for the oppressed and suffering of the world springs from his love. The love of God is manifested in this, that we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, challenge injustice, and make known the reign of God. It is my work to aid in the building of temples where God dwells and through whom God works. They are my students, they are God’s vessels and these are their stories.
By Meg Mathews
Women’s health is a major issue in the Philippines that needs to be addressed. We have been fortunate to meet some women in the country who do aid the poor and oppressed. I was given the opportunity to work with a local midwife that serves the slum community called Pag-asa and was blessed to aid in the delivery of a little girl. The midwife whom I assisted, Christiana Orario, is well-known to the needy women that live in these impoverished areas. The woman came into the clinic experiencing strong contractions. I watched Christina as she immediately took the walk-in patient, pushing all other appointments to the side to tend to this woman. She looked at me and said, “We are going to have a baby any minute now!” I followed her into the delivery room awaiting my next instruction. While she was preparing the delivery room, I found out it was the woman’s sixth baby, and that she did not receive any prenatal care because of her economic status. In Tagalog, (the national language of the Philippines), she repeated the phrase, “life is very difficult here.” I encouraged her and held her hand as she began to push. Within fifteen minutes, a beautiful baby was brought into this world. I looked at the mother to find her unable to smile or cry for joy. She was devastated. All she could think about was where the next meal would come from or how it would be her sixth child that would grow up without any education. Only in time, coupled with education in the word of God, will women become the object of our care and mercy during birth.
Education must include the mothers as well as the children. I hope the church in the Philippines will enable us to educate these loving and kind human beings that suffer the life taking grips of poverty.
Si Mama Sue ay Nandito!
By Megan Jarreld
This year’s trip consists of many firsts for our team. One of those firsts is the opportunity for my grandmother, Mama Sue (as she has come to be known by the Filipinos) to accompany us on a 5-week trip. She is the first grandparent of a South East Asia team member to join us in the Philippines and I am happy to share this part of my life with her. The Filipinos love her and she is a natural here. Age has not stopped my grandmother’s willingness to learn and open herself up to the world. I am proud of her and her willingness to do anything she can to help our team and the people here. She made many sacrifices to leave our family and her obligations in the States to come on this life-altering trip. I am excited to see how it will change her heart and transform her mind. One of my greatest hopes for her is that she will see that she is not a burden and she is not too old to learn and to serve.
Children of the Streets
By Sue Jarreld
No matter where you go in this city you see children living on the streets. Children with no place to live, hungry, dirty, very thin, in rags, and no hope in their eyes. My heart aches and I cry out, “Why God? What have these children done to deserve this hopeless life? Who will shelter them, feed them, clothe them, and love them?” God answers, “All of you, that’s why you are here.” I know that we are here to teach and empower the poor and oppressed, to teach them to find and use their voices, to stop the injustice. Children do not belong to the streets. They belong to the society in which they are born and that society is responsible to care for them. It is the failure of the political powers to govern that results in these cycles of poverty that dominate the Philippines.
The Oppressed Workers of Hanjin
By Ty Mathews, Joel Olson, and Chris Cameron
The shipbuilding branch of the Hanjin cooperation was initiated in South Korea in 1977. After becoming a multi-billion dollar industry, Hanjin furthered its business into the Philippines in 2006. The Hanjin Cooperation purchased a 568-acre lot in Subic Bay, a former US Marine base. Within 3 years the Subic Shipbuilding facility became the 4th largest in the world. Currently, the Subic Shipyard employs 20,000 Filipino workers. These workers come from all over the country to work 9-12 hour days, 6 days per week, and earn only $6 per day. As of April 2009, Hanjin had reported 5,000 accidents and 19 deaths within their 3 years of existence in the Philippines. Though Filipino men are often aware of these dangers, their desire to care for their families leads them to risk the difficult working conditions.
Tucked away on the side of a mountain on the former military base you can find around 400 Filipino workers living in rows of quansit huts. You can always tell a Hanjin employee by their shaven head and their light blue uniforms with “trainee” stitched onto their chests. We have spent quite a few hours now talking with the men, learning their stories, and hearing them candidly express their hopes for their future. For only $3 a day they board busses and head down the mountain to the training center where they are taught how to construct ships. None of the men are guaranteed jobs, in fact half of the men we met will be cut by Hanjin after completing this training session and as Efrain, one of the Hanjin trainees said, “be sent home with only tears.” Most of these men have left their families, sacrificed jobs and risk losing their eyes or fingers, for a 40% chance of getting a 6-month contract.
On our first trip to the huts we found the place mostly empty. The few workers present were resting from the labor in which they participate in their waking hours. The rest of the men were at work. However, we found 1 hut that had 7 men in it. These men had come all the way from Tarlac, a city 4 hours north of Olongapo, with a group of 250 men who had been told they had jobs at Hanjin by the recruiting center in Tarlac. The men told us that of those 250 men, 47 of them were being sent home for “minor medical reasons.” Having only been there for 2 days, these men had only 3 hours to be out of their housing. Their story represents just part of the darkness that is hidden behind Hanjin’s mask of concern for the wellbeing of their Filipino workers.