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“When are we leaving for Payatas”, I said to my friend from church.

“We’re not going to Payatas, we’re going to Tondo” she said.

“Wait, I went to Smoky Mountain and when I went before we went to Payatas”.

“Oh yeah, there is more than one Smoky mountain.We are going to the one in Tondo”.

The day before we went on a volunteer trip with my church, Church Simplified in Manila, I was shocked to find out that there was more than one Smokey Mountain here. Smokey Mountain refers to an old landfill, now abandoned, which has become home to thousands of people that daily turn trash into “treasure” to be resold and used as income to their families.  Visiting the site incites all sorts of thoughts and emotions that range from absolute pity to beautiful people making the best of a difficult situation. As always, I had a blast playing the “Picture, Picture game” so I will now introduce you to our games contestants.

 

Students of Smokey mountain using the new Young Focus computer lab

Theatre group practice

Now that you have met the residents of Smoky Mountain let me introduce you a great organization that is working with the people in order to provide access to services to improve the quality of life.  WE International was our host and tour guide to the homes, people and developments in Smokey Mountain and despite what seems like a dire situation, they were able introduce us to new and exciting developments there. They are partnering with local organizations to provide services that range from micro-lending, health care, education and support services for students. It was so exciting for me, the mental health OT, to see an organization called Young Focus. They had just built a new youth center and were focusing on many areas of youth development like job training, counseling and educational scholarships.

All in all, the trip was one filled with both sadness and hope. Sadness to know that people are living in conditions such as these but also hope to know the great things that are happening there in order to draw out the potential of those that are there.

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