2009 has been a time of great turmoil for the Philippines and the World In Need school there. First there were two typhoons, one after the other, which caused death and destruction, and in which people lost their homes and possessions. Now the Mayon volcano has erupted, covering a wide area with fine ash that causes respiratory problems. Local people have been evacuated because scientists expect it to explode at any time.
In the aftermath of the typhoons, the World In Need school was a boon to the community in Baguio City. More solidly built than most of the dwellings on the Smoky Mountain rubbish tip, which it serves, it became a refuge for the homeless and lost. Classrooms were opened up as places to sleep, and the people were given blankets, food and clothing.
Since then, the school's own future has become shakier. The owner of the building needs to sell it, and we have no way of knowing what the new owner's plans will be. It may be that they want to continue to lease the building to us, so all can continue much as before. Such an outcome would be a wonderful answer to prayer.
If we could raise $200,000, we could buy the building ourselves, and assure the future for the school and the children who attend. These are children from the poorest sectors of society, from families who are too poor to even rent homes in the slums. They live in dwellings made of cardboard, dotted over the rubbish tip, surrounded by the refuse of the rest of the Filipino islanders. The children run, barefoot, over this rubbish, collecting things that their parents can recycle and sell to make their meagre livings.
Our school and the education it gives, provides hope of a better life for these children. It gives them the chance of skills which will enable them to break the cycle of poverty and deprivation that imprisons them now.
If we cannot raise the cost of the building, and if the new owner does not wish to be our landlord, the school may have to close, or relocate. Either scenario would be a blow to the children already at the school. Relocation might mean that it becomes too far for them to travel for their education. Closure would mean we would have to find new schools to take them - no easy task.
It surely cannot be that the children we have sponsored and worked with are now to be abandoned. It surely cannot be that the hope we have fostered will be snuffed out. As we head towards 2010, we must pray that the right solution to this problem will be found - a solution that allows us to continue to serve the children of Smoky Mountain.