Today was a real eye opener.
This morning we visited the City Refuge for children. It houses abandoned or rescued children. Some rescued from the street, others rescued from abuse and bad situations. The refuge is meant to be a short term station but some children have been there for 5 years. There were several special needs children who were happy and very tactile.
Lucchi was our leader for this session. She prayed, then we sang some songs. I played the guitar and sang ‘Jesus love is very wonderful’ and ‘Whose the king of the jungle?’. They the children taught us their favourite a Filipino song. Lucchi taught them the story of the tower of Babel, she is a gifted story teller. We finished with a game of human skittles and then colouring. It wasn’t easy running around in the heat today – but we managed it. They took us to see an abandoned baby called Devine. She had encephalitis and a growth on her face. She had an operation recently and now needs another. It will cost 4 thousand pounds and they do not have a sponsor, so she lies on the bed and the refuge do what they can to keep her comfortable.
We went for lunch with Lucchi, Sara and Duncan. They explained more of the situation in the refuge, how they set the Father’s Heart up and their ideas for the future. To finish the meal we prayed together.
In the afternoon we went to visit the Badjao tribe. They are fishermen and live in houses on stilts in the harbour. To get from house to house they have built ‘bridges’- planks of random wood over a quagmire of rubbish and sewage. There are a few families that Duncan and Sara work with here. We wobbled our way (or was that just me) across the planks only to find a wedding celebrations in full swing. There was Filipino dancing that even Duncan said he had never seen before – it was quite Arabian in style. They all wanted their picture taken- especially the guys playing keyboard and singing! We then wobbled along till we had to cross the quagmire on two bamboo poles with nothing to hold onto! One cracked when I stood on it! My heart was racing. I really didn’t want to end up in the sewage below.
We spent some time in one family’s house. The floor is just strips of bamboo nailed to planks of wood and you can see right through the floor to the water below. This floor gives under the weight of you when you step onto it. Duncan talked to the kids about their teeth. Many have such poor teeth that they pull the rotten teeth out themselves or with friends. He is trying to get them access to dental care. This means for many false teeth to fill the gaps.
When we came back we drove past the grounds of what once was a POW camp. It is now a memorial garden. The 250 American POWs were forced to build the runway to land on here in Palawan. When the Japanese heard they were just about to lose the war they killed them all in a horrific way. 10 of them saw the preparations for their demise and build an escape tunnel -7 got out and managed to swim across the bay. One of the men, so the story goes, was bitten by a shark as he was swimming. The shark was circling for its second attack when dolphins turned up and circled the man protecting him until he reached land.