Transformation in a Manila Slum
Block 38 is not a pretty place. Sitting in the middle of Manila, the capital of the Philippines, it is a mass of cement and tin structures bulging into the streets with open canals that run through it. Kids, dogs, and motorbikes meander above the potholes while vendors of clothing and household goods compete for attention on every side. Above them, amateur electricians have woven a tangled, humming web of electrical wires that hangs like a canopy over the entire slum. But it is the sheer mass of humanity packed between the copper and cement that make Block 38 what it is today. Every square foot is occupied, usually two and three stories up in raw, unfinished cinder block rooms and shared latrines.
Eddie, a middle-aged taxi driver, struggles to rent a small space for his family in this congested squalor. He was not a believer when our local WPS partners first met him, but during the team’s second visit to the community, he gave his life to the Lord. A new light came into his life and he talked excitedly about positive hope for his family. Still, Block 38 has a way of squeezing out all but the most robust of flickers.
Our partners visit communities often as they work to facilitate healthy transformation, so it was not long after he made his decision that our partners came to visit him again. This time, instead of hope in his eyes, they saw fear and resignation. He had lost his taxi job several days before, and now his son Edu had been arrested. If this was not enough, he and his family were about to be pushed out of their tiny living space because he could not pay rent. Eddie was riding on a ragged hopelessness, and his trust in God wavered. How could God allow such pain to happen to someone who was only trying to provide for his family? The closer he seemed to get to God, the more problems seemed to flood his little space in Block 38.
In the midst of his darkness, our WPS partners continued to encourage him to trust and pray. Eventually, he breathed out a sigh and agreed to continue to cling to Christ and trust him, even as everything looked dim and hopeless. He even managed a smile as our team left and promised to be back soon.
What a difference prayer makes! The next time the team visited, there was something new shining in Eddie’s eyes. The community leaders had rallied around Eddie with a community-funded, interest-free loan. As a result, he was able to avoid eviction and pay the rent. God had not stopped there! Edu’s case was dismissed and he was released from jail. And now, not only had Eddie found a new driving job, his son had found work as well.
Our local WPS team visit Eddie and his community several times a week as they walk out this new path of wholistic community development. It will not be easy, but their goal and the goal of World Poverty Solutions is to bring lasting transformation and hope into this struggling community. The darkness of Block 38 is still there, but there are lights that even Block 38 can’t put out. Thank you for standing with us and Eddie!