Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Day 13: What does $0.30 buy you in Manila?

I've got a lot to say tonight, but I think it's a good train of thought I think will help you gain some important perspective if you could spare a few minutes to digest. Thank you!
Hunger Journal: Today was much better on the meal front. Redemption from the previous two days which saw some failures. I found a sort of creativity-out-of-desperation kick, which was desperately needed today. I was standing in the kitchen before lunch sort of numb, realizing my last batch of cooked rice had been used at breakfast, and I was hungry now, so I didn't want to wait 45 minutes for my rice to cook. I was so uninspired but then I remembered it was a 3-egg day and I got a much needed last-minute inspiration for lunch you can see in the photo at the end of this post. My aversion to the recent soup debacles led to better creativity for dinner as well.
I got a sweet note from one of my staff at the Children's Hope Center in Manila, saying they were all proud of me and praying for me, and that was huge wind in my sails. I told her about my recent meal (vegan pizza rolls) and that it cost me about 15 Philippine Pesos ($0.30), and asked her what kind of food she could buy with that. 

I found her response interesting. She said it could buy either two eggs, or a bowl of noodles, or three small bread rolls; comparable, or worse, than what I'm getting. So maybe for $0.30 you could buy ingredients for a humble egg drop noodle soup, but I don't think it would have the diversity of ingredients that my soups have had.

I will try to do some further study on this topic, because one of the common contentions I've received from my blog readers is kind of the "Yeah, but can't you buy a lot more food in those parts of the world with $1?" I honestly don't think so. I think economically it holds about the same. Staples like rice, beans, potatoes are commodities, and commodities are traded internationally, so I'm no economist, but I do believe that $0.30 here buys about the same in the developing world. I'll do more research and get back to you.

But regardless, my point is that those families living in the slums in Manila, for example, are still struggling, in an extreme way, to make ends meet living on about $1/day. Just think, a common salvager living in the Payatas Landfill Colony (where our Hope Center is located) is making about $1-$2 a day, but that is their entire budget, not just for food, but for cooking fuel, clothing, rent, medicine, and any other imaginable household living expense you can think of.

Lailani, one of the girls enrolled at our Hope Center, seen here at her home.

When you start to consider these factors, you can start to understand the predicament of these families, and why they don't enroll their children in school, why they keep them home to help them find a few extra sacks of recyclable materials to redeem for a few pennies. They literally cannot afford shoes for their children, uniforms, bookbags, or school supplies. If they were able to afford sending their child to school, being illiterate themselves, how are they going to help their daughter with her homework, and how will they be able to ensure her success in school?

So as you're reading this, I hope you start to see the kind of pattern of fear and desperation that creates the cycle of extreme poverty. That's where our Children's Hope Center model comes into play. In this case, in the case of the Payatas Landfill Scavenger's Colony, we have a Hope Center located right in the middle of this colony. It's a colony composed of shanties and cottage-industry recycling sorters and salvagers, with junk shops everywhere dealing in putrid trash being sorted, cleaned and prepared for sale to the recyclers, with young children involved in every operation.

When we can convince families to enroll their children in our program, we get them everything they need to get their child into school: school supplies, bookbags, uniforms, etc. and not only that but we alliviate some of the financial burden of caring for their children by way of providing them with one fresh-cooked meal per day after school. Again, back to my illustration above, one meal can represent around a 1/3 day's wages, so that is significant.

Our after-school care program then provides the child with tutoring services, to help them with their homework and supplement their school-based coursework so that they can catch up with other kids further along than them. This eliminates the other opposition that the parents have to enrolling their children in school, that being that they fear understanding the homework and don't know how they will actually be able to assist their children in succeeding in school (something every parent wants for their students).

But programs like the Hope Center cannot exist without monthly support to sustain these important efforts. Our Philippines staff works hard to maintain our farmland enterprise there, which covers about 30% of our in-country budget, but it's not enough to sustain it completely. That's where you come in, to step in with a small recurring donation that says, "Yes, I will give up a little so that they can have something consistently to count on!" And so it's like a seed of hope you are sowing into their cycle of poverty, that when grown, will hold the key to open the door that lets them escape that darkness. 

It may sound idealistic, but I am here to tell you that it is true. We have hundreds of case studies of children who have come through our programs and are now free of that world of desperation, thanks to education and nutrition that was provided to them at the right time.

And that brings us to checking in on the "Heart-Chart"; a chart that's measuring our love for these children. You could say it's also a measurement of their hope, and our collective effort to do something consistently in response to the darkness of extreme poverty and its many ills such as human trafficking and child prostitution, which are sadly rampant in cities like Manila with its unmanageable population of 22 million.

So I'm sorry to report that last night's late-breaking news of the $51 heart being sponsored was a false-positive and we had to return that heart to its previous status. But today we finally reached the total needed to turn the $36/mo heart to red, thanks to eight donors who effectively pooled their resources to sponsor the heart as a group! 

You can do the same as well. Just use this link to register a monthly gift of any amount of your chosing. I'll then keep track of these and will announce when the next heart is sponsored as a result of this pooling effect! In fact we've already pooled $9/mo toward the next heart! However, if anyone is feeling inspired and extra generous tonight, I would be grateful if you would consider just going ahead and filling in that next heart completely, at the $37/mo level!

So here's where we are currently, so close to filling up that next row! 

I'm dedicating day 13 to the children enrolled at our Manila Children's Hope Center, whose smiles tell stories worth thousands of words... these are some of my favorite portraits I was able to capture of them during my last visit...

Charitable goal explanation. For those of you just tuning in, I'll recap what I'm trying to achieve with the "Monthly Donor Heart-Chart" and my goal of finding 50 new sponsors for these "hearts" which I like to think of as representing lives being transformed and, ultimately, saved.

Why am I seeking monthly donors? The orphan care, child labor response, and human trafficking response programs we've pioneered at Peace Gospel and She Has Hope— while sustained in part by small business enterprise— need charitable support to be fully sustained. The budgets of these programs have fixed, monthly expenses. Thus, while one-time donations are deeply appreciated, it's the monthly donations that give us something to count on and plan with. Therefor, long-term, they're the most powerful.

If you're willing to make a small monthly sacrifice of any amount to help ensure that the following merciful actions are fully funded each month, I would be grateful for your partnership with me in this effort. With your help, our monthly budget enables us to…
  • Provide resident care for 290 orphans in 11 homes in Asia and Africa
  • Operate 4 schools and 4 after-school care programs reaching over 1000 children
  • Serve approx. 50,000 fresh meals to children in our programs
  • Train 100s of girls how to avoid the dangers of human trafficking
  • House, rehabilitate and empower 20 girls recovering from human trafficking

On to what I was able to create with just $1 worth of food today. I was very happy with my lunch and dinner inspirations! These were somewhat filling, and definitely tasty.

Click or tap on image to enlarge...




Take Action!

1) Please consider helping me reach my goal to find 50 new "Sustainers"— donors willing to give a small amount each month toward our work helping vulnerable children and trafficking survivors. Learn more and sign up here!

2) Please visit my unofficial sponsor, Amazon.com through this link. 7% of your purchases made through the link are given to the work of Peace Gospel's programs helping orphans, at-risk children of the slums, and human trafficking survivors.

3) If you're compelled by my effort here, please share it with friends. One of the main goals is awareness. So if you can help with that, huge.

4) Leave me feedback. Please comment on this post, especially if you have any ideas about what I should try to cook with these ingredients I have available. I love hearing from you! It really helps!

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