Helping a community to rebuild in Manila

Darren Owens with Edwin Nombre, founder of the True Manila Foundation

Darren Owens with Edwin Nombre, founder of the True Manila Foundation

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A Manx-born volunteer has travelled to the Philippines to help his friends at a charity rebuild after a devastating fire.

Freelance web developer Darren Owens, who lives in Singapore, first encountered the True Manila Foundation at a hostel where founder Edwin Nombre was rounding up backpackers to help distribute food and essential supplies to street children.

The aftermath of the fire that destroyed 50 homes in Manila. Manx-born Darren Owens is helping the community to rebuild

The aftermath of the fire that destroyed 50 homes in Manila. Manx-born Darren Owens is helping the community to rebuild

‘I didn’t know what an impact this would have on my life,’ said Darren. ‘The True Manila motto is sharing culture, kindness and friendship. We visited his family home where he talked about growing up in the slums. He walked us around his neighbourhood and hundreds of children followed us everywhere, happy and playful.’

He continued: ‘Since I visited in 2012 Edwin has organised projects to build a home for five homeless families, rescued a family of young children living on the streets and arranged their school fees and for volunteers to teach them English.

‘He also feeds around 50 starving children every morning so that they will go to school instead of begging for food on the streets.’

Darren immediately decided to help after Edwin’s home and all the family’s possessions were recently destroyed in a fire that tore through his neighbourhood.

‘All it took was one unattended candle and over 50 homes were destroyed in a single night,’ he said. ‘Luckily everyone escaped with their lives, but now they only have handouts and ration packs from the Government.’

Darren praised Edwin’s efforts to coordinate the rebuilding process. ‘Even during this time of great personal loss he is already working to help his community recover,’ he said. ‘Between all his jobs that he needs to survive and put a roof over his family’s heads, he is organising True Manila volunteers to give out donations of food and clothes, and starting a project to donate materials to all the poor families so that they can start rebuilding.

‘I hope by being here, helping with the fundraising and being by his side, I can help support him through these difficult times.’

The Unusual Noodle restaurant in Ramsey are giving £1 from every dish they sell throughout July to help the rebuilding effort and donations can be made at youcaring.com/TrueManilaFire

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