Hampshire church members on a mission to change lives of the poor

TIP A girl surrounded by trash at the dump nicknamed Smokey Mountain in Manila, Philippines
TIP A girl surrounded by trash at the dump nicknamed Smokey Mountain in Manila, Philippines
The Highfield Campus at the University of Southampton, which is home to the George Thomas Building. Picture: Geograph

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MOST people throw away used up toothpaste tubes and ring pulls from soft drink cans.

But members of the Family Church are using the stash of recyclable items to give people living on a sprawling rubbish tip in the Philippines a new lease of life.

A team of 20 worshippers from Family Churches in Portsmouth, Havant and Gosport have taken boxes of the unwanted materials to the country so people living on the tip can make handbags and jewellery out of them.

During their two-week trip they will also discover what life is like for tens of thousands of families who live on Smokey Mountain, the large rubbish tip based in Manila.

Church goers will also make repairs to a school set up by UK charity The Philippine Community Fund and teach mechanic skills.

Nurses from the congregations will help out at a new birthing clinic which has been set up on the tip.

Portsmouth Family Church pastor Stuart Payne, who is leading the trip, said: ‘This will be a life-changing experience.

‘I’ve never been on a trip like this before.

‘It will be tough seeing families and orphans living their day-to-day lives on a sprawling rubbish dump.

‘It will put things into perspective for me. In this country, we are incredibly lucky. We take things like having a car and a house for granted.

‘Part of our aim is to spread the message of God and let these people know that there is a God that loves them despite their circumstances.’

Since November, worshippers have been shipping out boxes of nappies, books, stationery, umbrellas, rain coats and wellies to people living in the country, which is in south-east Asia.

On Saturday, members of Portsmouth Family Church, which meets at City of Portsmouth Girls’ and King Richard schools, distributed 450 boxes of chocolates to residents in Buckland and Paulsgrove.

Mr Payne added: ‘This free goodwill gesture was about giving something back to the community. We had a lot of fun doing it.

‘We want to show people that we are an active church which not only cares for people abroad but for those living on our doorstep too.’