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March 2007 Mission Journal PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 24 March 2008 18:00

I just recently returned from a 20 day mission tour of the Philippines. Emotionally I am still grieving inside about all the new starving children I encountered and what I learned about the depth of the cause and effects of poverty on innocent children.

Reflecting on what I saw eight weeks ago makes me misty eyed, creates a lump in my throat, gives me both a pain in my heart and a stress-tension headache. It is even difficult typing this email because it makes me revisit the tragic situation these beautiful and innocent Filipino children are involved in daily as they struggle greatly to survive.

What I saw in the Philippines cannot properly be put into words—at least by me. But I will try to relate a few of the horrible situations they live with daily. I visited a family of 11 (nine children) last September, 2006, in a shanty town village on the island of Negros Occidental near the city of San Carlos. They would sometimes go days without food and survive only on water. I revisited them again this year to see how they were doing and to tell them that food for their village of 500 people should arrive next week from an organization called Feed My Starving Children. I asked the wife where her husband was. She told me he had committed suicide a month ago and now she is trying to make it desperately as a single parent to provide for her family of 10--by herself. His suicide was a result of years of extreme poverty, lack of work, no hope for a future and no food to nourish his brain to enable him to think clearly. Extreme hunger and poverty is a thoughtless MURDERER…..!

I also visited a few orphanages on the different islands. The beautiful brown-eyed children tried to charm me in their own special ways. They were hoping that I would adopt them. They were so beautiful! I could not tell them I was only there to make sure they had enough food to eat in the upcoming months. You see, the 13 Catholic nuns that lived there with the children and took care of them could not even afford to have their own personal bathroom facilities. They were doing without a bathroom because they had no money left after their move to the orphanage. They were also very busy trying to feed the 132 starving children of the village.

It was easy for me to focus in on two orphaned sisters ages six and nine. The older sister, Vanessa, had the biggest wide-screen radiant smile and was always peeking around the bushes and the trunks of palm trees at me. When I inquired about how they came to be at the orphanage, the mother superior informed me that these two little girls had walked 52 kilometers (about 32 miles) across the jungle of Northern Samar to get there. Their mother went insane for lack of food along the way. These nuns belong to an order called “The Poor Missionary Sisters of Christ.” What a fitting name for an order that cares for hungry children!

I experienced a very precious moment on another Philippine island. I had an opportunity to visit, video and photograph a grandmother and three of her grandchildren. Fr. Edwin and Sister Mary Vic had gotten involved with this family because of one of the little boys named Eldon. Eldon was five years old. This brown-eyed, dark-haired little boy became very sick at a young age because of typhoid 1 and Dengue fever (caused by an insect bite). He had been so weakened because of these diseases that he lost the use of his legs. He only had the ability to crawl in the dirt like a handicapped and paralyzed child by using just his arms. For the last 75 days, he has been fed on a steady diet of the food from Feed My Starving Children. Little Eldon has regained his muscular-skeletal strength and is now walking for the first time in his life. You should have seen darling little Eldon when I brought out more of the packages of food that made him well. He began to smile and kiss the package of food that was handed to him after he walked across the room to grab it and cling to it. He repeatedly kissed that package of food for the next three minutes! This is all because of the vitamin packed food donated from FMSC which was shipped and distributed through RSM’s holistic feeding program efforts. Praise God!

What I encountered in the province of Luzon shocked me again. There are 70,000 to 100,000 abandoned young street children (no home or parents) in Manila alone! The city has the largest population of street children of any city in the world. There I met and talked with one 10 year-old little beggar named Allan. Here is part of his daily life-struggle story. First I will give you his mother’s background. She was also a product of the street. A no-home child, she was raped at 10 because she had made the mistake of falling asleep while not one watched over her. This started her life as a little girl prostitute in her struggle to survive as a homeless street child—she was just hungry for too long. Allan is her son. His father is unknown because when his mother came into womanhood she did not know how to protect herself from getting pregnant. Also, when you live at the bottom level of poverty in Manila or any large city in the world, there are many gangs and drug pushers that will physically beat you as a street child if you do not use, sell or buy drugs from them. Sometimes the drug dealers will get these children addicted by force. It is no surprise that Allan’s mother is a drug addict also.

When I asked Allan how well he does begging from the tourists on a daily basis, I really was trying to find out from him if he gets enough money to feed himself daily. He told me he receives about 500 pesos a day. That is the equivalent to 10 US dollars. I was relieved when I hear this from him because this meant he had enough money to feed himself. It was at this point the social worker from St. Paul’s Drop-in Center in Manila, who was helping me with the interview, stopped me and told me to ask Allan another question. Rosalie told me to ask him where his money went every day. I quickly found out that his mother and her boyfriend forcefully take the money from him to buy “Shebo” which is a poor man’s form of cocaine. Allan’s nine year-old half-sister is currently living with Rosalie and her three children. Rosalie is afraid the mother will force the little girl into prostitution for more drug money. Allan also has a younger half-sister who is four. The mother takes all three children with her on her tricks. The children are also with her when she is using drugs. These children all have different fathers because of the mother’s prostitution.

I now asked Allan where he finds food. He said he goes to back doors of restaurants late at night and begs for food from them or he crawls inside their garbage dumpsters looking for leftovers. I asked him where he sleeps. He said he sleeps wherever he can find a safe hiding place. I asked him how long it has been since he has had a shower. Two weeks. This whole situation has come about because Allan’s mother is herself a product of deep poverty. Because of lack of food, work and money, the brain damage suffered by this woman as a child has had lifelong consequences. Despite his situation, Allan is intelligent, charismatic, handsome and speaks perfect English. I was amazed! He really wants to go to school but he has no time for that because he must keep on begging for food to live. Allan is now hiding somewhere on the streets outside of Manila. He is afraid his mother and her pimp/boyfriend will force him into prostitution. Please pray for him and all these other 70,000 to 100,000 poor, innocent street children of Manila.

During my travels, I also found out there are over 8178 documented malnourished children on the small island of Catanduanes under the age of 71 months. There are approximately five times as many starving children that age on the island of Negros Occidental. Also, there are over 5000 documented malnourished children on the tiny island of Laoang in Northern Samar. There are over 7,000 populated islands in the Philippines. So far, I have only been able to do mission work on seven of them because there is so much need on each one of them.

On the island of Laoang in Northern Samar, I witnessed a multiple life saving four day event. Our very own medical team from the Philippine Minnesota Medical Association headed up by Dr. Tommy Ong, along with seven doctors and five nurses, did 92 free medical surgeries. Twenty-five of those were major. I also saw them treat another 560 plus patients in a clinic. Plus, an additional five dentists on our medical team filled and extracted teeth for another 350 plus patients within those four days. They were awesome! The team brought with them $30,000 to $50,000 in free medicine just to give away to the poor people of that island who needed it. The people were so grateful. While this was going on, a RSM retired and dedicated high school teacher, Mrs. Lita Malicsi, from Minnesota was giving professional, dynamic and free teaching clinics to over 100 Filipino school teachers. This will help educate their students in a more modern way on all the different islands in the Philippines. An ongoing RSM feeding program, designed to reverse malnutrition in hundreds to thousands of children, was going on simultaneously also. God must be so proud of these amazing missionary volunteers from America!

Well, that is a little bit about my last trip to the Philippines. Please keep these poor, innocent children in your prayers as well as our missionary team from Minnesota. Pray that we all will be able to shake off the personal depression wrapped around all the sorrow and hopelessness that we witnessed firsthand. This suffering has been forced upon these children through extreme hunger and generational poverty. In regard to my trip to the Philippines, I personally saw too many orphaned and hungry children. Just in the areas I visited, there were over 30,000 innocent children ages six years old and younger that were alone and suffering from malnutrition on many of the islands. I am still heart sick about it. I now know from the research I have just completed, there may be one million more children of the Philippines suffering and becoming malnourished casualties this year!

Risen Savior Missions, a lay missionary group, has already shipped one million meals to the Philippines during the first quarter of this year. The meals arrived in February of 2007 and are now being distributed by the Catholic Church to the areas where it is desperately needed. But, if we do not ship another two million meals, we could possibly lose thousands of hungry and suffering Filipino children this year—forever. All $540,000 worth of food is being donated for free by a charitable organization called Feed My Starving Children. All we have to do is raise $24,000 to pay for shipping costs. That is $3150 per container for each 270,000 meals we ship. So far, we have raised $14,000 for this project. We only need $10,000 more to ship the rest of the needed children’s meals to the Philippines.

Oh, God, by your Grace, we must find a way to continue to save your children!

With respect and love, your brother in Christ, Jerry

 



 

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