The South East Asia interns have been on the ground in the Philippines for almost a full day. Among our goals for the interns is the effort to expose them to a variety of areas of need so that they can understand the complexities and hard work involved in long-term development work.
Today our interns had the opportunity to visit a small housing area called Tambakan, which mean ‘trash’ in Filipino. The name comes from the fact that this area used to be a city dumpsite. The city moved the site of the dump and now the area is a squatter village. The area is filled with children, most running around in unsanitary conditions amidst broken glass with no shoes. Many are malnourished, and many have rotting teeth. Their homes are often flooded by the canal their community borders. They are threatened regularly by the government that their homes could be taken from them. They are, therefore, afraid to invest too much money into improving the area.
Our time in Tambakan was accompanied by dozens of children following us everywhere we went. We tossed them in the air, played basketball with them, talked to them in broken Tagalog and learned some of their names.
After visiting Tambakan, the team stopped by the city market, picked up fresh fish, rice and eggs to share with the inmates at the holding center we visited at the local police station. The prison system in the Philippines is a very sad reality. We have learned time after time of men and women placed into the prison system, often wrongfully accused, who spend months or years in a holding cell only to continue to have their court dates continually changed.
Today the sight we saw was 17 men in an extremely hot 10x20 room with two beds, one shower, one toilet and one pot for cooking. Most of the men had been in the cell for multiple months and weren’t any longer sure of their court dates. We shared food with them, encouraged them in the Word, sang for them and learned a few of their stories.
All in all, a great first 18 hours in the Philippines.