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05-16-12-children-of-mother-earth.jpgOn May 26, Reeves Auditorium will explode with Philippine culture, bringing to life traditions found through dance and music.

Mga Anak ni lnang Daigdig (Children of Mother Earth) performing arts troupe will perform on the stage of Reeves Auditorium, Methodist University at 7 p.m.

“This group of amazingly talented young people give a fantastic show while sharing stories and the different traditions from the many regions of the Philippines,” Allen Burton, event coordinator said.

Traveling all over the world, they share their rich culture and raise awareness about environmental issues such as the untreated garbage dump they are from. This talented performing arts group of young people is from Smokey Mountain, Manila in the Philippines.

Smokey Mountain is a garbage dump in Manila. Rising more than seven stories high, it is the second largest garbage dump in the world. Approximately 30,000 people inhabit the dump plundering for scraps of paper, metal and other recyclable materials to sell. The dump edges right against the Manila Bay, polluting the water as well as the air with the chemi-cals. It’s called Smokey Mountain because as the garbage decomposes, the heat of the sun causes the chemicals in materials to burn and release smoke or ignite small fires.

“Think of the worse conditions you can imagine; all that and more is true about Smokey Mountain.” Dr. H. Monte Hill, president of the Filipino American National Historical Society – Carolinas Chapter. The Carolinas Chapter is sponsoring the group’s trip to the East Coast.

Families build homes in the dump out of scrap material found while searching through the garbage. As many as three generations live in the small crowded shacks, making conditions unbearable. The children living in Smokey Mountain do not go to school because families rely on the entire family scav-enging to survive.

“When you get close you see long lines of garbage trucks waiting to unload. On days the wind blows you can smell it miles away. The stench is so strong it can make you sick. There are mountains of garbage with people crawling all over the mountains. Children are as young as four years (old) searching the trash for scraps, no shoes, discarded rags for clothes and filthy, they search all day for the few pennies they will make off the things they find,” said Hill.

The Catholic Church of the Philippines created the Children of Mother Earth Foundation to help the people of Smokey Mountain and raise awareness of the environment. Approximately 100 young people are selected from Smokey Mountain and spend years training with professionals to be ready to tour profes-sionally like the group performing in Fayetteville. At 17, members of the troupe age out and are given a scholarship for college.

However, many more children are helped through the fundraising efforts of The Children of Mother Earth. The foundation provides clothing, teaches hygiene and provides basic necessities to as many chil-dren as they can in Smokey Mountain.

The dance group debuted in 1994 and has given more than 350 perfor-mances all over the world. The mission of Children of Mother Earth is to raise environmental awareness and call for peace and justice.

“All of the proceeds go back to the help the people of Smokey Mountain. It’s an amazing show and by coming you are helping provide a better future for so many,” Allen said.

Tickets for the show are a $15 donation and sponsorships for those wanting to help are available starting at $100. Contact Allen Burton at 910.584.4841 for more information.

Photo: The Catholic Church of the Philippines created the Children of Mother Earth Foundation to help the people of Smokey Mountain and raise awareness of the environment.

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