Philippines: Lost in the 'Promised Land'

Hundreds die in Philippines dump tragedy, but churches move quickly to care for the orphaned and injured.

The Lupang Pangako ("promised land") outside Manila is probably one of the largest and most famous garbage dumps in Asia. As of July 10, it became one of the deadliest. On that Monday, after monsoon rains and typhoons softened the ground, one side of a 50-foot mound of trash collapsed, burying an estimated 200 wooden shacks near the bottom of the slope. More than 200 people died in the trash and mud landslide, which occurred in the Payatas section of Quezon City in metro Manila, the capital of the Philippine Islands. Rescuers managed to pull out 51 people who had been buried by the slide."There are 475 homeless families living in the 12-room elementary school within sight of the mountain of trash that collapsed on their houses and families," Southern Baptist missionary Mark Harvey told Baptist Press. "The only word that came to mind was overwhelming--overwhelming tragedy, overwhelming need, overwhelming opportunity to make a difference for the glory of God."Bonifacio Corda, 48, pastor of the independent Pingapala Christian Church in Payatas, witnessed the tragedy. "It was a tidal wave of garbage flowing like a river." Teresita Gumatay, pastor of Jesus Our Hope Church, has set up a temporary orphanage at her Assemblies of God congregation for newly orphaned children. A Southern Baptist missionary team drove supplies to Payatas-Hope Baptist Church; people from one of two Southern Baptist churches at the dump site helped pack 300 relief bags of food, soap, clothing, and the Gospel of John.

Acres of poverty

During the past 27 years, 60,000 families have built simple shacks in the shadows of a 74-acre garbage heap that rises nine stories and stretches the length of three football fields. Many residents make their living as scavengers. ...

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