Visit in Manila
Sarah Platt visited Manila in December 2007 to work alongside CCM for four weeks.
Q: What were your first impressions of the Philippines?
A: Manila is completely different from other countries I have visited. I went in the coolest time of the year, but nothing could have prepared me for the sticky humidity of Cubao, made so much more unbearable by the heavily polluted, exhaust-filled air.
Then there was the confusion of loud rock/pop music blaring out from the jeepneys, horns sounding constantly, vehicles coming at you from every direction, vendors weaving in and out of the traffic and the pavements filled with people selling things in a language you don’t understand, or sleeping rough.
However, I got used to the things going on around me and people went out of their way to make me feel welcome and show me some of the work done by the church and CCM.
Q: What did you do while you were there?
A: I went to the Philippines in December, so most of the normal activities had stopped for the Christmas break. Much of my time was spent in helping the preparations for different end-of-year parties – for the girls’ home, EAP and drop-in. I also spent time at the girls’ home in Masinag and at the social workers’ office.
Q: What were your impressions of the work CCM is doing?
A: My knowledge of real poverty on a large scale was based on what I had seen on TV and read in prayer letters. Going into the slums and seeing the shocking conditions that hundreds of families have to live in was difficult.
While negotiating the dark smelly passages in the squatter areas, I was aware of the contrast between my life and theirs. It made me think of a verse: ‘Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus’ (1 Thessalonians 5:18). I wondered, would I be able to thank him for living in such conditions?
Q: How has your visit helped shape your understanding of poverty?
A: It’s hard to believe that I witnessed such poverty. And that’s just in one small area of one city. How many millions of people are living in similar conditions across the world?
To see the care and concern that the CCM social workers and house parents have for each child and their families, it was so clear to me the way in which God is working through CCM, not just through the provision of schooling, but also in providing hope for their future.
Moreover, while my understanding of a Bible study held for a group of ladies in a slum area was limited to the ‘amen’ at the end, it was wonderful to know that they are being told about an everlasting hope that is infinitely more precious than earthly possessions and pleasures.
During my short stay, I must have seen more than 500 children, squatter families and street people hearing the gospel.
Q: What was the thing that struck you most about your visit?
A: I had just a snap-shot view of the work, yet what really struck me was how life-changing the work of CCM can be, particularly for those who put their faith in the Lord Jesus.
For so many people who are poor and destitute, they have the opportunity to be rich in Christ Jesus, who will meet all their needs.
It was fantastic to meet people who I’ve heard so much about and a real challenge to witness first-hand the commitment and love of the workers and their desire to serve God faithfully.