In 2002 the Pateros Outreach Ministry started as a Church Planting Ministry headed by Pastor Conrad Cruz. Later Carina Arcaina was appointed as Officer in Charge and now she has a staff of six others who assist in the Outreach. The ministry reaches out to the many people, all of whom live in poverty and many is squatter areas, in the Pateros municipality in Metro Manila. This is the second most densely populated area in Manila with with 27,000 people per square kilometer.
The ministry was renamed the Potter's Hand Outreach Association Inc. in May 2006. It is currently sponsored exclusively by Dorcas (Wessex) Trust. The ministry runs Bible study groups for children, teens and adults, provides medical assistance, feeds the hungry, sponsors children to go to school, provides opportunities for camps and field trips and gifts for the children at Christmas.
In 2008 Carina started Bible classes in the area aound her home in Pasay. She now has groups for two different ages of children.
In September 2006 some of the properties in the squatter area served by the ministry were demolished by a typhoon leaving many people homeless. Many others were left without electricity and drinking water. Dorcas (Wessex) Trust supported several families to rebuild their homes and lives again.
Here is Graham's description from one of his visits showing what he was able to do there:
"I have visited many squatter homes, some with solid walls, others built from pieces of scrap metal, wood and plastic. All the homes are small, and often with no toilet or one shared with perhaps twenty other people, and many without access to electricity. I cannot give you an adequate picture of the first family I visited by using words.
As I approached a bridge, I was directed down a slope towards what looked like the local rubbish tip, which was floating on a pool of stagnant liquid. I am twice the weight of the average Filipino and as I stepped on a rotten plank of wood to cross to the far side of the pool, it cracked. With help, I reached the bank where to my left, built between some poles under the bridge, was a structure which was 'home' to a lady (G) and her four children, aged between 7 and 13 years. She had no water or electricity, and it was dark inside all day because it has no direct light.
She does washing to earn a little money to feed her family, and is helped by Carina as she attends the weekly Bible study. Her children are sponsored for schooling, since she is one of the 20 children that Dorcas helps in this area by paying school allowances. This pays for books, uniform and other things. I gave G her bag of shopping and moved on to the home of 11 year old girl. Unfortunately my foot went through the floor which was the ceiling of the family below! The girl's mum had died and her dad can only get work occasionally. She has malnutrition and looks like a 6 year old, but was really happy as I gave her a birthday present and dad his parcel of shopping.
While in Pateros I went into two schools to meet the children we support. I spoke to each class, fifty pupils in each and about five hundred in total. Their behaviour was excellent, as education is valued there, and these poor children were without exception – very smart in their uniforms. They have no TV or computers or science equipment, and the buildings have to be used twice each day for two sets of pupils. One set starts at 7 am and the second at around mid day."
Pateros children having a Bible class in the room we rent for them. It is used for meeting the families, worship and in the evenings the children do their homework there.
Carina (right) provides a foodparcel to a squatter family