This is a country where poverty and wealth live side by side – quite literally, and I have found this difficult to accept. It was in Manila where I found this especially evident. All through the visits to museums and historical sights I’ve learned the Philippine story, and it hurts. There has been so much corruption, so much pain. But as I step out onto the hot streets of Manila or look through the glass window of the bus, I see it doesn’t look much better in it’s present state. Sure the government has improved, the city has built itself up again since the WWII bombing but there is still so much poverty. The streets are lined with squatter houses. Cardboard is used as houses or simply beds. People are wandering about the streets trying to make a living selling sunglasses, hats, fans, marionettes and the like to anyone who will even show the slightest interest. The river too is lined with squatters. This has had a major affect. Once a beautiful clean river, it is now polluted because those living there have no where else to dispose their garbage.
These few short sentences hardly begin to describe the sad sights of this Mega city. Next to this poverty are massive buildings of businesses, offices, banks, shopping malls and more. There is so much wealth living alongside those living on $10 a day or less.
How can this be fixed? I found myself wondering, how can I help? how can I fix this? What can I do to make a difference? My only answers were hopelessness. Nothing will fix this problem immediately, nothing I can do will fix it. I became so discouraged as I looked out at the flooded streets of Manila I couldn’t help but shed some tears. As the rain came down and I watched the people and array of vehicles make their way through the water filled streets I felt so hopeless. So useless. So discouraged. Where is the justice? God where are you? your children are suffering.
I am living in a broken world and it hurts.
But despite the destitution the people here are all smiles. They seem to be so happy and content with life. They’re so friendly and willing to lend a helping hand. For them, this is life. This is how they live and they may not even know any different. Even though life may be hard I sense that these people still live in a positive attitude. This to me is a reestablishment of the saying “money does not buy happiness.”
After finding some encouragement, I still wonder what I can do to help, how I can make a difference, and how I can live justly.