Monday, December 30, 2013

Humid Holidays In Manila

Dear friends and family,

I braced for a cold Christmas on furlough while my prayers remained centered on Manila. While the ice and snow in Canada have been especially dangerous, how do we comprehend the death toll and destruction from the typhoon in the Philippines? Many organizations, including International Teams, have rallied support to answer the prayer for relief in the wake of this disaster. However, as families across the Philippines who've lost everything move to an already overpopulated Manila, higher rates of out-of-school children will have a long-term effect that cannot be addressed only by short-term relief. Our team at IT Tender engages in long-term community development and education.

In spite of the recent tragedy, God blessed hundreds of children and families through our annual Christmas parties. My team experienced the joy of giving groceries to families and gifts to children at our parties. 

Food and games at Jollibee - the favoured Filipino restaurant of our kids 

At IT Tender we strive to empower the most impoverished communities in Metro Manila. Recently, the local government asked for our help in a new area of Sucat near a squatter community we've invested in for over 10 years. The new area consists of simple shanties built on bamboo stilts over a bay. We are currently surveying the needs of the community and excited to implement income-generating and educational programs that correspond to their assets and needs.

A warm welcome during my first visit to the community
These shanties stand above several feet of water.

Jizza, our intern social worker, gains a broader picture of the community from one of its leaders. 

As requested by the locals, our first priority is to aid them in sanitation and waste removal.
Please pray for this new community and also for the many communities outside of Manila affected by the latest Typhoon. My fiance Jam has many relatives living in the province of Leyte who were directly hit by the storm. I was honoured to meet them months before the storm when we visited for a week. Now we're shocked to see news broadcasts of Leyte in utter desolation and to hear word from her relatives that they were without food and water for weeks.

These young relatives of Jam have lost their homes and are starting over again after the storm.
The very sweet grandmother of Jam with her two brothers
Moving forward and staying strong, Jam's relatives are thankful that they all survived the storm.
There is much work to be done in the Philippines, and I'm ready to return on January 8. I will deeply miss my family and friends in Canada, but I'm grateful for your support and encouragement that allow me to serve Filipinos full-time. God bless you!

John Coffey
Director of IT Tender

Caring for street children ~ Isaiah 58:10

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