From street child to Intern…

Carl’s Story

I meet Carl at night time along a busy street in Tabunok, in the centre of Talisay city. He walks me past dozens of motorbike drivers and street vendors, all hopeful of making that last sale or fare. The air is hot and humid and the ground dusty and uneven. Carl leads me to a building next to the old public market. As we sit on some dirty steps at the entrance to the building, it’s obvious from his face that he doesn’t like being here. This place as too many bad memories for him, memories of a life that he feared would always be his present and his future. The smell is overpowering, a mixture of sewage and rubbish. The road outside never rests, cars and motorbikes drive all through the night, blasting their horns and blaring out music. Market vendors are asleep on their tables, apparently oblivious to the surrounding raucous. This is their home, their world. As it was for Carl just 18 months ago. He begins,

‘I ended up living near the Tabunok market because my mum left me when I was 8. My friends and I slept on these steps. This is where we found food. We would find cardboard to sleep on. When it rained we would go up there. If it rained really hard it would still come in the doorway and get us wet so we would move up to the top of the steps.’ He points to the uppermost steps, no better than where we are now, only providing an extra metre or so of protection from the frequent Filipino rainstorms. Currently, it seems to be home to a malnourished stray cat. ‘In the morning we would get up to look for money. We would do any manual labour, like heavy lifting, carrying people’s water to earn money to buy food. In the evening we would just come back here to sleep. Sometimes we wouldn’t sleep. We would roam the streets all night looking for ways to get food and money.’

Carl pauses as he remembers those years of loneliness, abandonment and hopelessness. He looks up. ‘I know it’s so horrible to not have a family. It’s horrible to not have a mum and a dad, no one to provide for you. It’s so horrible to live on the streets with no home, no place to live. You can’t eat properly, go to school or have proper clothes to wear. It is honestly horrible.’

The next day I meet Carl at one of the Mercy in Action children’s home. It is very homely, filled with books, games and toys, with a decent sized garden. He continues to tell me about his childhood and teenage years. ‘When I was still on the streets I heard about the Mercy in Action Drop-in Centre. I went there along with my friends and they gave us food and we could shower there. They taught us to read and write, and they gave us clothes. Even when I was naughty the Mercy in Action staff still loved me and helped me. Then, the time came that they rescued me. They rescued me from drugs and from the streets. They helped me to change my life.’

As Carl describes the changes that occurred in his life, a large smile slowly spreads across his face. He proudly shows me his bedroom and his new guitar that he is learning to play. He explains, ‘I now live at the Mercy in Action Boys Home. I sleep here, I go to school, I can shower here and I eat proper food now.’ Excitement shines from him as he tells me about his 18th birthday which he spent in the house, and the opportunities he now has. ‘Since I turned 18, I’ve become an intern for Mercy in Action and I’m volunteering at the summer programme. I help kids who are like me. I’m so thankful to everyone who helped me and let me come here. I have a good place to live and a safe place to sleep. I can go to school properly, eat enough food and shower each day. I am thankful because God sent people to help me. In fact, help all of us. The other kids that are living at the Boys Home too, who have been left by their mums and dads like me. I thank God that he has helped me and I have a new life now.’

Carl’s story is just one of many lives that Mercy in Action is impacting in the Philippines. We hope you find it as encouraging as we do! Thank you for your support that makes life changing situations like this possible.

You can watch the full length video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqtbgKkB1u0&list=UU2B4C96z1awvbPpLoBCLZMg

(Please note, names have been changed to protect the identity of the children we work with)

Comments
One Response to “From street child to Intern…”
  1. Rebecca Goulding says:

    A moving testimony. Keep up the amazing work, MiA!

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