Manila's City of Garbage


Manila is one of the 5 poorest places in the world, with thousands of people surviving in almost unbelievable conditions. Many live at the city’s garbage dumps. Families build their livelihoods and homes by recycling garbage. Reed Galin takes us to a free school that serves as a haven for the children.


(Locator: Manila, Philippines)

In the shadow of the capital of the Philippines lies a city of garbage.

Hundreds of families live in shanties and work round the clock here, trolling the Smokey Mountain city dump for recyclables to sell. Many suffer from skin infections and tuberculosis from living in trash.

Marlee ended up here after she lost her home in a typhoon. She has four young children.

Marlee, Garbage Dump Resident: “The province I came from was destroyed by the typhoon and it was so hard to find money.”

Marlee can collect enough discarded clothing to earn 100 pesos a day. That’s about two American dollars for her family of six.

Marlee, Garbage Dump Resident: “My husband has no job.”

Near the dump, the United Methodist Church runs a free elementary school. Here children can escape the danger and despair of daily life while their parents scavenge. Sixty children get a daily meal and uniforms. Education holds the key to breaking this cycle of poverty, and parents here hope the next generation will find opportunities beyond Smokey Mountain.

Children singing: “Thank you Lord for the beautiful world, for sun and the blue, blue sky…”


The Shalom Kindergarten, run by the United Methodist Church, serves sixty children. It is funded by donations from churches in the United States.

To learn more about programs in Manila, contact the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries at 1-800-UMC-GBGM or 1-800-862-4246.

Also, see: Church offers hope to Filipinos living amid garbage

Posted: November 7, 2007