Reaching out to the 'squattered children'
by Alan Mandell, DC
"I fell in love with the Philippine culture after visiting the country more than two and a half years ago. A close friend insisted I come with him so he could show me how some people have no choice but to live the "simple life." Seeing how these people lived touched my heart in so many ways.
Yes, I saw poverty. But I also found that for many of the people there -- despite their lack of material things (or maybe partly because of it?) -- family and love were the first priorities. I grew to love the children who lived out their lives in poor "squatter areas." Long after I returned home, I felt the desire to continue to help educate and feed these beautiful innocent kids.
In the years since that first visit, I’ve seen and fed more than 40,000 children, using my own funds, with the help of a wonderful Philippino taxicab driver named Randy, who I met on my first trip.
While I was preparing for my trips, Randy would go to different "Barangay" captains, who serve like village mayors, and arrange times for me to visit and see the children. At each stop, hundreds and hundreds of kids would be awaiting my presence, all excited to see me. They intuitively knew someone was coming to help, someone with a vision of a better life for them. It wasn’t long before my name was all over the news, and everyone was familiar with the kind of services I offered, and why spinal health was so important.
Although Tagalog is the primary language in the Philippines, most of the people also understand English, even the kids. I was able to teach them as well as provide chiropractic care. Everyone, including the children, showed me much love and appreciation.
Sadly, there are so many sick children in the Philippines. I would get up bright and early, making my rounds and bringing hundreds of bags of "pancit" noodles to the people who came to see me. I performed spinal workshops with large groups of children suffering from skin diseases, malnutrition, and malformations. It was heartwarming, and heartbreaking at the same time. Life in the poverty-ridden squatter settlements is sad, and I walked through hundreds of huts serving as homes there. In some areas, up to 10 people live in one small room no bigger than half your bedroom. There are no toilets and no running water.
Paradoxically, there’s plenty of happiness and love in these squatter villages! I recently completed a 36-minute documentary called "Invisible Souls of the Philippines" that can be viewed at www.vimeo.com/10087697. When you’re at that site, check out the 17-minute video called "Squattered Children in Cebu Philippines" as well!
My ultimate goal is to get others to join me and help build a better life and future for these beautiful children, and share chiropractic throughout the world.
(Dr. Alan Mandell is in private practice in Miami. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 305-654-9100.)
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