”A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr
Trek for Hope Part 2: Hope in Happy Land
SMOKEY MOUNTAIN PHILIPPINES – Amidst the beautiful mountains of Philippines that we trekked and lived to remember , sits a mountain unique of its kind – a 2 million metric tons of waste ‘mountain’ in the heart of Tondo Manila that housed millions of people for over 40+ years.
After trekking for 4 days in the wilderness of Mount Ugo and Mount Pulag, it has brought us back to the Philippines capital with energy and desire to do something for the impoverish people of this beautiful country. This was done alongside partner non profit organization (NGO) – Oikos Helping Hand.
In 1995, the removal of Smokey Mountain has lead to the creation of a new Smokey Mountain to ‘house’ the vacated – and nested in the heart of these new temporary ‘refugee camps’ is the slums of ”Happyland” and ”Aroma”. The names till date, still causes my stomach to churn whenever I recall the twisted irony of it.
The name “ Happyland ”…
…is derived from the Visayan dialect’s name for smelly garbage: Hapilan, a slum made up of many mini dumpsites put together. The most common type of trash seen here is from the large fast food chain in Philippines Jollibean, where the scavenger sort the different types of packaging and leftover food from cups to straws to spoons.The leftover food gets recooked into ‘pag pag’ and is actually re-consumed by the scavengers.
The team of 22
…from the Trek for Hope expedition broke into groups of 5-6 to conducted food ration giveaways to some of the residents of these homes/ slums. We interacted and talked to them to understand their lives better/ and perhaps to just be a friend or listening ear. Some of these residents or scavengers we visited in Happy Land lived just to get by each day rummaging through rubbish to find something valuable. A lot of them really depend on Agapehome (supported by Oikos Helping Hand) to help them – be it house their children, provide them food or hopefully help them and their families break out of the poverty cycle.
The condition of the Philippine Slums
Homeless in Manila? Or not
Other than the house visits, we also had a full day community event held at Agapehouse, (by Oikos Helping Hand) where all the scavengers from the slum areas are invited over to the premise to enjoy some singspiration/ games/ food/ activities and bring home some smiles and gifts to their respective homes.
GVING HOPE – as a mere human, how can we claim that we truly understand what that means? Does going down 1 -2 times to visit these people and pulling out some money solve everything? What do we understand about the everyday battle of these residents as they worry about the survival of their newborn or the next disaster that will strike that will shaken their very survival.
In a place where there is too much need and cry for help, how can organizations dare to promise to make big changes overnight, and give a clear timeline what can be done by when, even if they are given a one off sum of donation.
However, through the few days we were there to help and be involved, what we realised mattered most was the human spirit/ spiritual love – a responsibility, compassion and continual persistence to want to help others that keeps us going and doing it. Nobody can guarantee to provide these people a pain free life, but perhaps through the little things, help them know there is something good and better that can get them through the day, and to the next.
HOPE – It isn’t wishing for the best.
It isn’t waiting to see what happens and hope that it turns out well. Hope is not a feeling or an emotion. Hope is the knowledge of facts. If someone says to you that “I hope you have a good day,” there is no guarantee that the day will go well. But hope provides an anchor for the soul that there is something good beyond the current pain, and this anchor once fostered, cannot be destroyed.
More footage from the Trek from Hope Philippines
(Photos credited to Yi Xiang of Adventureexposures.com)