Our staff here in the Philippines has taken me under its wings and has been a great help as I have been settling in my new home. Adie, our Local CEO’s brother frequently takes me home at night, so I can avoid getting a cab

and thus learn the city streets better. Although my cab rides are only 150 php ($3.75), it is a nice change.

On one of these rides home, we were taking a side street to avoid the traffic on the c-5 highway. Unfortunately for us, Adie’s plan did not meet its goal. As we waited in a long line of cars on the narrow streets of Pasig City, I saw a hollowed-eyed man approaching cars and begging for money. This man looked extremely skinny, very dirty and a bit like Bob Marley except black as night from being in the sun day after day. I turned to Adie and asked something like, “Is that guy a druggy”? Adie laughed as he told me that that guy could not afford drugs. Unbeknownst to me, as we continued our discussion, the man appeared at my window. A few seconds later, I shifted my gaze from Adie to the traffic in front of us and found the man staring in my window with a blank stare. His empty eyes were probably as empty as his stomach. He just stood there, looking in. I could not bring myself to look at him.

A few days later, early in the morning, my taxi driver took the same route that Adie had taken that day. In the same place as before, I found this empty-eyed man. He was sleeping on the side walk, curled up next to the cold steel door of a shop that had not yet opened.

At first, my eyes and perception had interpreted this man as one lost to drugs, no hope for the future, only looking for his next fix. In reality, he was looking for his next bit of life-sustaining food, lost in poverty with no hope of getting out.

Written by Nathan McClellan. Nathan McClellan is the Program Manager of Mentors International’s Philippine branch. He and his family moved to Manila in May 2013.

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