There are many overlooked places in the world where thousands of impoverished children and families reside. In one place called "Smokey Mountain" in Tondo, a district of Manila, Philippines, it is unforgettable. Unlike the picturesque Smoky Mountains on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, this Smokey Mountain gets its name from the mountainous heap of burning garbage, where men, women and mostly children, scavenge for their livelihood. At its peak, it was seven stories high and consisted of over 2 million tons of garbage. Here, they scavenge for plastics, iron, aluminum, and any possible recyclables to help supplement their family’s income, despite the overwhelming stench of waste, rotting food, excrement, burning garbage and death. They live off this land, creating makeshift homes of cardboard, sheet metal or anything else that can be found for shelter. While there are many slums and impoverished communities around the world, Smokey Mountain is an unforgettable place etched in the hearts and memories of CieAura Founder and CEO, Ken Rasner and his wife Valerie. Read more about the history of Smokey Mountain here.
"A toddler there is so hungry, she picks up whatever she can get and eats it," says Ken. "She just happens to be eating from a dump. I have a 2 year old daughter, and for me to think about her going out to a garbage dump every day to try and find something to eat is horrifying. Yet these children live with that for years. They don’t know what else to do. They have no options." SEE THEM (credit: courtesy of Mio Cade Photography).
A church called "Beautiful Temple" was established by Pastor Nixon Rosales and his wife, Cora. They have established support and trust within the community. CieAura is committed to assisting in their efforts to bring about lasting change for the people of Smokey Mountain.
Preliminary plans are in process now to create Malaya House. In the Tagalog language of the Philippines, Malaya means "free" or "to be free". CieAura plans to establish a hybrid orphanage, with a cafeteria, church, playgrounds, classrooms, living facilities, bathrooms and medical care to help these children have a better life. The goal is to start serving between 200 and 300 kids. This would be a place to also help parents learn skills to help them become productive members of society.
CieAura retailers and customers can help bring hope and freedom to Smokey Mountain. When a person orders CieAura chips, they will have an opportunity to donate $1 or $2 to the Malaya House. CieAura will match every donation. "We can change the lives of these children from disease to health and from hopeless to hopeful," Ken says. "There’s room for everybody to help and there’s a blessing for everyone who does."
CieAura is in the process of forming the Malaya House for Smokey Mountain and other charitable causes.