About 2 hours south of Metro Manila, Philippines, is a small rural community. I had the privilege of visiting with a few families in the area, and listening to their stories.
Lori (above) lives a humble life. The shed-like buildings behind her are her home (to the left), shared with 5 children. Directly behind is her shop. Two other families live in adjoining shacks.
It’s pathetic when compared to our vast dwellings, but it keeps the sun off, and the rain out (debatable). Lori received a loan of around US$100 to help with her small store (another one of those small shacks attached to the house). The loan was part of a micro-enterprise program from the Philippines-based Center for Community Transformation.
As Lori shared her story (sometimes in broken English, sometimes via an interpreter) – I came to the verge of tears. Emotionalism is unhelpful, so instead I smiled and laughed at the strength of these people.
Just after Lori had received the loan, her little daughter got sick. Very sick. She drank some of the water in a nearby well before it had been boiled. The diarrhea came rapidly and dehydration followed soon after. Lori said that she came close to dying and the loan was used to pay for the hospital visit that was to last for weeks. She was sure the child would have died without the loan.
The little girl came running up and jumped into her mother’s lap, and as I looked at her grubby face and those eyes… I just wanted to tear up. I felt angry at the injustice of their situation, and utterly humbled that a donation from me, in another country, came all the way through to this little family, and saved a little girls life.
The knife-edge of poverty has no mercy. One small incident (a 2 year old puts some water in her mouth) leads to pain and suffering, and economic hardship.
Lori’s little shop will recover but it will take years. By the end of our visit she was proudly taking us through her home (all one room of it), smiling and pointing at her kids.
She had hope.
And hope is one of the strongest forces in the universe. No matter how messed up life is.
Hope tells you there is more, there is purpose, there is meaning.
No matter how much material wealth we may have, without hope, we are still empty inside.