Slums

The capital of the Philippines, Manila,
is home to some of the world’s worst slum areas, where thousands live crammed together in poverty, most barely make enough money to provide for their basic needs. If you were to go to the slums you would head along narrow, dark alleys, ducking under washing lines strung from side to side, and dodging tied-up cockerels and women crouched over large tubs of soapy water washing clothes.  

There is no sewage system...  well, there is a system of sorts – it’s the foot-deep concrete channel sunk into the side of these alleys. You would regularly have to squeeze through two foot square holes to get into underground rooms or climb up rickety ladders (measuring just a foot across) into homes on the upper levels.  The shacks are often 3 stories high. The area is more densely populated than you would believe.  Families are large, with seven children being normal.  Every possible space is filled with a family. CCM is involved with one particular family of 10, who live in a house around 4ft by 5ft and 3.5 ft high. They take it in turns to sleep, this is quite common.

Those who live in these areas are among the poorest of the city's residents, apart from those who sleep on the street.  On average they earn 150 pesos a day per family (around 2 pounds) and often have to survive on just one cup of rice a day between a whole family.  Sometimes families do not even have enough to buy food for the day, so they will share one mug of coffee between them, taking it in turn to sip when they feel faint from hunger. Their incomes are unstable as there are no fixed salaries – they work selling things on the streets, driving tricycles and other such low income jobs.

A visitor comments on the slums and the EAP sponsorship:

“The poverty is overwhelming, and it's so humbling when you appreciate your own material blessings in comparison.  The smell makes you screw up your face, and one of the worst things was seeing three sick children from a sponsored family.  They looked like the children you see in Oxfam campaigns in Africa; unhealthy, thin, nearly motionless, barely able to open their eyes, and with sweat drops all over their backs.  Sometimes it's really hard not be upset by the things you see“

“The children from these communities who receive sponsorship are given something very precious they could never have had otherwise, no matter how hard their parents work – an education, and the chance of escaping the poverty they were born into.”

A visitor (Maciek Stolarski) who is well travelled, regularly visiting missionary work in India and Africa, commented that the slums in the Philippines are the worst that he has seen.