Rubble and Redemption: Finding Life in the Slums of Manila

ISBN 978 190368 978 3
226 pages.
Published 25/6/2012

£4.99 - £9.95

Paperback, Kindle, Epub

“No Europeans live there!” exclaim the locals when the Schneider family moves to the slums of Manila. Yet garbage dumps and tin shacks are to be their home for many years. It’s here that they encounter chief witness Nick, doomed Jessabel, rapist Arol, billionaire Doña, guerilla Nardo, burnt-out development worker Rob … The couple’s gripping, first-hand account tells of countless fascinating encounters, of friendship and betrayal, of floods and shoot-outs in broad daylight, of prayers, dreams and fears, of meaningless death and meaningful life. Christian Schneider, a trained nurse, and his wife, Christine, a primary school teacher, spent over nine years in the slums of Manila with their two children. Through their life with the poor, they helped develop therapeutic communities for former drug addicts, prostitutes and street children. Christian and Christine now live back in Switzerland, but continue to support the aid organization Onesimo they founded in Manila.

Christian, a trained nurse, and Christine Schneider, a primary school teacher, spent over nine years in the slums of Manila with their two children. Through their life with the poor, they helped develop therapeutic communities for former drug addicts, prostitutes, and street children. Christian and Christine now live back in Switzerland but continue to support the aid organization Onesimo they founded in Manila.

“Christine and Christian Schneider’s story is exciting and compelling. It is a powerful appeal not to ignore the hell  that exists on this planet. It reminds us that the Christian  faith is not an elevator to heaven but rather a motivator to  make a difference, here and now, for God and humanity.”

Shane Claiborne, author, USA

“This is not simply a book I have read and recommend.  These are people that I know and a ministry that I have  seen grow before my very eyes. It is the challenging story  of doing urban mission among young poor street people  in the challenging city of Metro Manila. This is a story  of incarnational love and concern. It is a story of hope.  Its heartbeat may even move you.”

Charles Ringma, Vancouver


This is a wonderful book—challenging, provocative and engaging. The reader will find themselves drawn in and deeply moved by its fast pace and powerful human stories.

Kristin Jack, Asia Coordinator, Servants, NZ


I find the book to be outstanding. Absorbing. A very good read. Touching. Not at all sanctimonious. A guide for Christians of the 21st century.

Dominik Klenk, Journalist and Prior of a Christian Ecumenical Community (OJC) inReichelsheim, Germany

Christine and Christian Schneider lived in the slums of Manila for ten years. Each day they shared the poverty of the poorest of the poor in order to give them back their dignity—and renewed hope.

Lise Favre, former Swiss Ambassador to the Philippines


The Schneiders depict razen criminals and petty scoundrels, murderers, prosti- tutes, and junkies as their—yes!—amiable neighbors, who are liebenswürdig— worthy of God’s love.

Andreas Malessa, Author, Radio, and Television Journalist, Germany


Though this book is set amongst the rubble of Manila’s slums, it is anything but hopeless. A truly inspiring story of redemption from the ground up—a grass- roots transformation that was sparked by an ordinary family who were willing tomove into one of the most impoverished neighborhoods in the world. Read this book and prepare to be challenged.

Craig Greenfield, International Coordinator of Servants, author of The Urban Halo, co-author of Living Mission, activist and missionary amongst the urban poor, Canada


Many of us hear the call. The still small voice that calls us to care. To care for all people—especially the poor—whom very few really care for. But unlike most of us, Chris and Christine Schneider listened to the call. They took the risk to acton the word they heard in their heart. They flew from the hermetically-sealed squeaky-clean safety and comfort ofSwitzerland into the full-on in-your-face poverty and violence on the city streets of the Philippines. And there, livingamong troubled people in the “rubble” of their lives, Chris and Christine prayed and plotted “redemption.” Rubble and Redemption is their amazing story. It is a story for all of us who hope against hope. It is a story for all of us who want bethe change we want to see in the world. And it is a story for all of us who have heard the call, to be reminded that now isthe time for us to act on our call.

Dave Andrews, author and activist, Australia


I can smell them as I read—the foul odors of the slums of Manila. Nothing is left out or glossed over. Above all, however, hope shines brightly, giving us the courage never to give up, neither on ourselves or others.

Ruedi Josuran, coach and moderator, Switzerland

About this Book 1

Welcome to Bagong Silang 3

Childhood in Basel 7

England and Manila 11

Blessed are those who receive 13

Noriel, the Teenager 15

Ana and Rodelio 16

Jonar’s Death 17

My Little Clinic 20

Mrs. Mercy 23

Jolli 25

Death in the Chapel 27

Nardo, the Resistance Fighter 29

Mata, the “Bodyguard” 32

Ruth, the Doctor 34

James, the Trades Union Steward 37

Imprinted Images 39

Snake Island 41

The Left Curve 43

Reymond, the Teenager 46

Moving to Bagong Barrio 48

The Freedom of a Motorcyclist 50

The War 52

Nick, the Witness 54

Moving to Potrero 57

Christmas Stories 59

Ate Donita, the Supplicant 61

Reunion with Christine 64

The Corpses Will Be Buried Later 69

Paulo 72

Rico, the Resolute 76

Faith for Cash 78

Navotas 81

Two Angels and a Motorcycle 84

Tired 86

Katja, the Temporary Missionary 88

The Fresh Breeze 91

If She Survives 93

More Swiss, Less Slum 96

Interim Balance 98

Romance is Sometimes Not Enough 100

A Challenging Entry into a Dynamic Life 103

A Difficult Birth 105

Letters from Manila 108

Beginnings in the NIA Slum 112

Letters from Manila 114

At Home in NIA 116

Letter from Manila 117

The Mountain of Rubbish 117

Letter from Manila 119

Culture Shock 119

The Payatas Gang 120

Rain Season 122

Doubly Pregnant 123

Letter from Manila 124

The Vision “Onesimo” 125

Make Way for Camp Rock 126

“Your Shack is on Fire!” 127

Noteworthy Contrasts 130

Sometimes Heaven Helps 131

. . . and Sometimes a Revolver 133

A Therapeutic Communal Organization 136

Letter from Manila 138

Beginning of the Communal Organization 139

Learning to Live Together 141

Two Busses, One Nightmare 143

Letter from Manila 144

Paths to the World of Work 145

Letters from Manila 147

The Vultures of Payatas 148

Letter from Manila 151

An Easter Experience 152

Workcamp and the Everyday 153

September Days 156

“I didn’t think that he would hurt me” 160

Tropical Fever 163

Letter from Manila 164

Moving to Philcoa 165

Summer Camps and “Women’s Work” 167

The Community of Girls 169

Letter from Manila 170

Our Neighbors, the Billionaires 170

Trust is Priceless 173

Letters from Manila 174

Payatas in the World News 176

Flowing (Waste) Water 178

Controversy about Corpses 179

Everything that we do here is sensitive 180

Three Filipinos in Switzerland 182

September 11th 183

Letter from Manila 183

A Bridge between Rich and Poor 186

Letters from Manila 188

Melancholy Christmas 189

Letter from Manila 191

Life Goes On 194

. . . and what became of them 196

Epilogue 207

Acknowledgements 209

More books from Servants Authors 210

Contact Addresses 210

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