[imc-qc] News - Reflections from PREDA and Fr. Shay Cullen,
Philippines # 168
PREDA Information Office
predair at info.com.ph
Thu Feb 24 10:55:54 PST 2005
Some thoughts of a young volunteer
By: Jonas Nakonz - PREDA Volunteer
Come here and see. This is no TV show. Come see the children in Manila's
jails and take a breath of that mephitic air. Come see the girls in the
clubs in Subic and listen to the voices of the foreign clients. Come see
the street kids living under the bridge in Olongapo and feel the mud
they're living in. And then think.
I come from the economic capital of the country famous for its many banks.
I enjoyed an elitist education, a perfectly caring mother and a wonderful
house. My biggest problem is deciding between the many opportunities.
Living in Switzerland has many advantages. But there is a strong tension
between the humanistic views people use to preach and the lifestyle I see
us having. I remember a reggae concert in Switzerland: Max Romeo was
singing about the hardships of life in Jamaican ghettos. But the people on
the dance floor didn't listen; they never saw a ghetto, never felt hunger,
never had sorrow. For them, that music was just amusement, a good reason to
dance, drink and smoke. Too far from reality is our life, the life of the
rich and wealthy. Let's move out of that created paradise we do not
deserve, and see what the world is really like.
We are in the Philippines. You can read about the painful history of
colonization. Read about globalization and its impact on national
economies. Read about corruption, political dynasties and their dirty
businesses. Read statistics on child sex workers, on rape, on imprisoned
minors. You can read it all in the books, and it'll give you the creeps.
Black ink on white paper. What impact do you think will reality have on you?
I hear all these sad stories. One kid living under the bridge tells me he
ran away from his stepfather five years ago. With the age of ten he took a
bus from Manila to Olongapo, an unfamiliar place with no one he knew. Since
then he tries to somehow survive and get some money for glue to inhale.
Whenever he's caught by the police, he gets beaten up and is forced to
clean the toilets in the jail.
Just recently, two twin brothers came here. Their dad raped their older
sister in front of their eyes. Not long after, they did the same thing to
their younger sister, inspired by their father. Imagine that family now.
Another boy got chained in the toilet by his father for three days, another
girl had to dance naked in a bar to support her family. In Preda Center are
about seventy boys and girls, seventy faces with seventy stories. Each of
these children has lived that story, as you live your own.
So much to learn. What the hell is poverty? This is an enormous question.
It's not just about starving bellies. It is a lifetime struggle against
overpowering obstacles. The poor is the most defenseless element of
society. Whatever the crisis is, the poor are the first to suffer it. They
have no money, no insurance, no medicine, not even a proper roof. The slum
is the incarnation of the whole wickedness of mankind. And there is no way out.
I don't know in what you believe, but isn't it possible that fortune could
as well have chosen you to be born there? In a small cardboard hut? As the
seventh child of a jobless man? You'd never have been to school. Instead,
you'd be sent to the streets at the age of five, to find money for your
family. Imagine you walking with no slippers through the wastes of your
overcrowded neighborhood. Imagine seeing your father drunk everyday,
pulling your sister by her hair, beating your brother with belts and sticks
and forcing your mother to have sex with him even if she refuses. It would
never be quiet at home.
Soon you'd run away, to your barkada, your gang, to those who share your
fate. You'd be smoking and sniffing 'rugby', industrial glue, before you
turn ten years old. Police would sometimes catch you during the curfew and
prove to you once more that you are nothing but a piece of shit. You'd know
the cells in jail, its smell, its toilet hole, and its big boss. What will
you think in those nights when your are sleeping on a wet concrete floor ?
What will you become? What will you offer to your children?
What makes it difficult for us to understand poverty is that we never
experienced the feeling of being powerless. We can not imagine feelings we
Facing all that misery and exhaustion, we must also see the good side.
Working in Preda shows me that changes are possible. There are so many
intelligent and dedicated people working hard for solutions, and more and
more they unite. I see activist youth in AKBAY, creating a movement within
the coming generation. I see all our seminars and campaigns, spreading
information and inspiration to people varying from discriminated Aeta
farmers to city Mayors and multinational companies. I see the networking,
the fair trade, the educational theater, the street work. And of course I
see the progress of the individuals, of the children living in our center.
It is so satisfying to see how a sickly and anxious child coming straight
from jail becomes a humorous and activist companion within weeks! Many of
them did not know how to write and count before coming here. Many of them
did not experience acceptance and appreciation in their lives before, or
real joy, trust, structure, safety and all these core values in human life.
Now, they can grow.
So, what is the role of a spoiled kid like me? Maybe it is listening to the
voices of our brothers in the south, to make sure they don't remain
unheard. Maybe it is trying to break the circle by providing education and
values to the young deprived generation. Maybe it is writing down these
thoughts, because nothing will ever change without communication. But
surely, it is learning and growing that some day my action is for the
benefit of the world and not for my own conscience. (End)
This email was sent to you because your email address was subscribed to us.
If you do not wish to receive further mailings, just please reply to this
message and enter 'unsubscribe' at the subject line. You may then be
rest-assured that you will never receive another email from us again.
PREDA Information Office
PREDA Foundation, Inc.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the imc-qc