Philippines Ministry Offers Hope for Homless

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CWN.org - CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES - In the Philippines, a Christian organization is going out to dumpsites and streets to feed hungry people, but they're doing more than filling hungry stomachs.

Sisters Ronalyn and Hanalyn Evaristo look forward to feeding days because they know the hot meal provided by the Cebu Missionary Foundation will fill their growling stomachs.

As CBN News followed them to their house, we discovered they brought more porridge home for their little brother.

Their mother, Joanne, broke into tears watching her little ones feed each other.

Having married very young at the age of 13, she shared how difficult it has been raising their family in a dumpsite.

"Life is hard," she said. "My husband is just a scavenger and we can barely buy food to feed our children."

The Evaristo's miserable situation mirrors the desperate condition of thousands living in the dumpsites, cemeteries, and sidewalks in the city of Cebu.

The central Philippines city is growing fast and has more poor people than any other city in the region.

Such abject poverty moved Australian missionary, Lucy Longden and her husband to establish the Cebu Missionary Foundation in 1998.

Since then, the Christian organization has launched several projects to help the poor.

Every friday the staff goes out to the streets of Cebu city, giving bowls of porridge to the homeless who are mostly sleeping in the sidewalks, and to some of them this is the only decent meal they get throughout the day.

One father living in the sidewalk with his young daughter said the bowls of porridge are a big help because it allows him to feed her in the morning.

The mango seeds and assorted bread Cebu gives away are part of the food collected from 5-star hotels that partner with the ministry.

"It was after 18 months when finally the general manager came to our area," Longden said. "And when he saw the children and how hungry the children were, he was actually moved to tears."

The food from the hotels allows the foundation to feed more than 15,000 people every month.

What's more significant is that the feeding ministry has become instrumental in transforming many lives.

Among them are these dancers who were once hooked on sniffing glue.

"I lost all hope when my parents separated," Noeboy Dulim Jr. said. "I was 11 years old and it was just me and my brother living in the dumpsite. I learned to sniff glue because there was nothing else to do."

"We'd see the boys sniffing glue under their t-shirt. I tell them, give me glue and I give you a meal," Longden said. "I'd take them and give them food. At the same time we discovered a lot of them had a gift in dancing."

With the foundation's support and guidance through fellowship meetings, the boys formed a dance group.

Recently, they were the opening act at a Christopher Cross concert.

Abandoned by their parents and once a nuisance to society, the boys now have become successful entertainers.

"I am so overwhelmed with the change in my life now," Dulim said. "I am very happy I've found a new family here, and I will never give up because I know God will never forsake me. He is always beside me."

To spare the little children from taking the wrong path when they grow up, the foundation runs pre-schools to instill Christian values in the children.

Ronalyn and Hanalyn are among them and their mother can only hope their education does not end here.

The Cebu missionary foundation is determined to make sure that the future of all the city's children is secure.

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