Ministries Without Borders- The Philippines
We were absolutely privileged to be able to join Noralv and Tone at their home in Cavite at the Ministries Without Borders base there. We arrived late but were welcomed warmly and excited to see everything that happens there the next morning.
The next day we spent time with Tone learning about the base and had a look around. There are two particularly awesome things at the base- a children’s orphanage for both babies and young children, and a maternity unit which provides free consultations and deliveries for the poorest ladies in the community.
We spent lots of our time in Cavite helping with the children. They are just wonderful and the ladies who work with them do the most incredible job of caring for them and also loving them, even though they are not their own. It was really hard work- many small people in a room is extremely hard work, I learned- but I was so happy to be useful and help to care for the children.
Matthew taught on Elijah the next morning as the base sponsors many children through their education, and many of them have become Christians and want to learn more about the Bible. Matthew did a great job teaching them- I was amazed by how attentive they were, even the younger ones! The cool bit is that not only the sponsor children come- lots of their parents wanted to find out more so they go for teaching too!
One of the highlights and heart breaks of my time in the Philippines was going out into the local slum village to teach and feed the children there. We took the truck full of portions of food. When we got close we were greeted by groups and groups of running smiling children. They were so happy to see us. Hardly any of them had shoes and most of them were in dirty, ill fitting clothing. Lots of these smiling children were covered in sores from red ant bites and few of them had a good set of teeth.
They were holding our hands, looking at us excitedly, chattering away and really getting pumped for an afternoon with us. We put up a make shift tent in a clearing beside the river where their homes are- we used a bit of broken tarpaulin and a stick and a few bits of string. The houses were all made of bits of rubbish, some of them were fortunate enough to be elevated to try and avoid flooding from the river but not all of them. Tone told me that when the river is high their homes just get washed into and they have to try to make the best of it and find things to make repairs if they can.
The children were absolutely amazed by the height of Matthew, measuring themselves next to him and asking if he was a giant- people in the Philippines aren’t tall generally, and malnourished poor people certainly would never reach the heights of 6 foot 2! He was a hit with the children primarily because of his genes- I had to work a little harder!
Some of the older girls were more confident at speaking English and were trying to find out all about me. They called me ‘teacher Hayley’ and told me I looked like Mariah Carey which made me laugh a lot. After some singing and dancing and games we got the children seated and I told them the story of Joseph with the help of the base’s amazing social worker and translator, Faith. The children were incredible and got so involved in the story, remembering nearly everything. It was so funny seeing some of them tell the distracted ones to be quiet so that they could hear. For lots of the children this is the only input they get from adults as their families are so busy with the children.
I met one lady with a tiny baby who was only 10 days old. She had given birth in her home made of rubbish in extremely unsanitary conditions but fortunately both mother and baby were doing well. There was another little one that Ministries Without Borders had recently taken to hospital as they had become very poorly with pneumonia- she was doing okay but still looked really weak. Inevitably without the input of the social workers and Noralv and Tone this little one would not have had medical treatment and quite probably would have died like so many of the poorest children in the Philippines.
The time for handing the food portions out was good fun- the children were so happy and so grateful. It was sad and wonderful both at the same time to see tiny toddlers that we would be weaning onto solids dragging their bag of hot macaroni happily. For some of them they won’t get much more to eat until the base revisits. I fed some of the smaller ones who couldn’t manage on their own- my heart could have burst for them. Those children are still there right now as we read these words, hopefully they’re well, hopefully they’re dry and warm, hopefully they’ll get a chance at an education through a sponsor. Lots of hopefullies- many of which are only hopes that can be held on to thanks to the work of Ministries Without Borders.
Some of the older girls asked if they could look in my notebook and fought over who was going to touch the words I had written on my pages first. I said they could write in it if they want to and their jaws dropped with delight. I have a lovely little note from a young lady called Joy, who was just marvellous, and one of the girls who is sponsored to learn. She brought me lots of joy, as does her note.
I was also privileged to see some of the work in Mindoro and help with some English teaching there which was really rewarding and great fun! There are some really incredible things happening in Mindoro which I can tell you more about in person if you would like to know.
It was also massively humbling to go out into a local village with a social worker in Mindoro and visit a family that Ministries Without Borders Supports. We went into their home, made of locally sourced items, and delivered rice and tried to find out their shoe sizes so that they could get some shoes for the family in preparation for the next home visit.
The local children were amazed by us, poking their fingers through the gaps in the house to touch us- westerners don’t venture into these places very often. There was little we could say to the family except for hello, a little chit chat through a translator, but we spent lots of time smiling and just ‘being’ with them. They were a really happy family despite having so little. It didn’t seem to matter. Maybe we need to learn something from this family without shoes for their children, or a door for their house? Maybe we should have a little moment to remember these happy people huddled in one small room together when we next complain about our home furnishings or what’s in the fridge for dinner.
To be able to see real life in the Philippines was world changing for us. I don’t know what our involvement with the Philippines in the future will be, but we are certain that it won’t end here. People need love and love is something we can all give freely.
We are hugely grateful to Noralv and Tone for hosting us and showing us such amazing things. They have the biggest hearts.