Philippines Partner Post
Meet Russ and Crishna Kustra
OUR PARTNERS IN THE PHILIPPINES
My name is Russ Kustra. I am Canadian, born and raised. I am married to Crishna Kustra, a filipino, and have been for 6 years. I have 3 grown kids who still live in the Vancouver area. I visited [the Philippines] 8 years ago on a missions trip with my friend from church, […] I ended up moving here 6 years ago to help people on a full time basis [after having seen] many kids living in the dumpsite and surrounding areas in great poverty.
How and when did your ministry start operating in your community?
In 2012 when I moved here my wife and I started our ministry in the dumpsite area in Mandaue City, Cebu, reaching out to the community with whatever help we can extend. Thinking that help without educating and relating to the people is just like “giving them a fish,” we started doing Bible Studies and other programs as applicable so “We can teach them how to fish and not just give them the fish.” Tapping to the source (which is God) than looking at us as the source.
What does your work in the community look like?
As of the present, we reached out to both Elementary School and High School of Paknaan (a public school where kids go to) to help with feeding programs, clothing and education programs and then onto family/couple programs so our goal is to touch people in communities particularly but not limited to Paknaan and Umapad with the love of God in both word and deed. We [also] have five Bible studies in moms houses that we do with our trained leaders as well.
What are some of the needs and challenges that children and their families face?
For the past 6 six years and even now, we have seen families broken up [due to] family disintegration, alcoholism, violence, child abuse, unemployment, and various health issues. We have seen young teens pregnant, incest, live-in and broken in their youth. We have witnessed death at childbirth, death due to malnourished babies, kids drowned in the river because of floods, a kid run over by big garbage truck, a suicide death, a murdered mom. We were once witnessed a group of people at gun-fight right in front of our very own eyes. Houses on fires many times. One family that is already regular with our Bible Study got her whole house burned right in the middle of the dumpsite. We have had a Dad die of rat urine poison. Another regular Bible Study attendee Dad, his son died of food poison. One of young boys felt sick one afternoon and died the next day. We have had a father jailed for sexually abusing his daughter. We have some moms that their husbands are in jail. Families demolished from their homes. Many face unemployment and or non regular work. We have seen many moms struggle with alcoholic husbands. Of course a non stop need is food. We just received a report from the public school, Paknaan Elementary School, today saying 480 of their 4000 enrolled kids are in malnutrition. Everyday challenges of these people are real. A lot of times we are just amazed and in awe of how God has always been faithful not only to them but also to us.
How has CCI and the school helped these children, their families and the community?
CCI is helping with monthly sponsorship for food for the kids and medical needs when required and or sometimes for needed school supplies. As well, some of the mothers are monitors [at the school] and they are paid a small honorarium which helps contribute to over all needs. We also use some of the money for community expenses for the moms attending Bible studies who are not under sponsored kids category and they are always grateful for this. During Christmas they are also blessed with a little extra gift (pillow, pillowcases, blanket, towel) and they love that. Besides the physical blessing I believe CCI and their sponsors give hope to families here, knowing that someone loves and cares for them. It gives them opportunities they might not have had otherwise.
With CCI’s support, implementing Bible Studies made it easier for us to help kids and families grow in the Lord and in living a life that is hope-and-faith-filled that they can someday somehow get out from poverty.
Please continue to pray for Russ and Crishna, for the work they are doing in the Philippines, for the children they support, for the families they are brining to Christ, and for the safety and renewal in the communities where they work.