Dean takes Davao street kids to Samal Island

I wondered (almost out loud) how a country that had been occupied by Spain for 300 years and by the United States since the war with Japan could be so poor and so apathetic toward its own abandoned children. I soon learned that this life-threatening scene was not unusual in Manila, Cebu and Davao.

During the same trip to the Philippines, I met children at the infamous Manila city dump known as Smokey Mountain because smoke from burning trash heads toward heaven 24 hours-a-day. I saw destitute young kids vigorously searching fresh garbage for a morsel to eat and any salvageable metal, plastic or wood to sell.

I met two abandoned girls next to Smokey Mountain and found and hired an elderly woman working as a volunteer at Youth With A Mission in Manila to feed and care for them in her own apartment. The woman was poor but well educated and happy to help the girls and earn some money.

Then I left Manila for Cebu, the second largest city in the Philippines, and I found a group of homeless street kids sleeping on cardboard under a bridge at 3 am. Once again, homeless street kids had banded together to have a better chance of survival. The limbs of their little bodies overlapped and touched each other so if something would have happened to one, the others would know and respond. I came back about 7 am and invited the kids to breakfast at McDonald’s but the security guard wouldn’t let us in until I convinced the manager to change his mind.

We could hear a pin drop as we entered the already crowded restaurant. All eyes were riveted on us. I told my new little friends to be seated and to wait for me and then I headed for the food. The McDonald’s counter crew helped me carry several trays with food for 13 kids back to our tables.