It’s January 1st, 2014. The first day of the year. We spent the entire morning at the St. Martin de Porres orphanage playing with the kids, doing some gift giving, and providing them toothbrushes and toothpaste. We were also able to break bread and get to know them through fun games and conversation.
After leaving the orphanage, we hopped back onto the bus for a 10-15 min bus ride.
You’ll notice we kidnapped some kids from the orphanage since they were so cute
Actually, these kids live in the Smokey Mountain slums so they were hitching a ride back home rather then their usually walk.
These kids were going to show us where they lived in the Smokey Mountain slums and be our unofficial guides
The bus ride alone revealed the poor living conditions in the Tondo (name of city) area as a whole
This picture was taken from within the bus. There was basically garbage everywhere you looked
We unload the bus since the driver feared it would get stuck in the mud, so we walked the rest of the way
Again, we noticed garbage left, right, and center
Garbage was literally everywhere
While walking through the slums we came across this boy holding 4 coloured chicks as pets
This is their Catholic Church where various services are celebrated. Like the Philippines in general, the majority of the families that live here are Catholic
This is a school house built by a foreign NGO (non-governmental organization)
This is what the locals call a tricycle (a form of convenient public travel). It’s basically equivalent to a taxi. This one was loaded of coal to be shipped. It’s amazing how much they can load on one tricycle in one trip.
Our guide also pointed out that one of recreational past times here was cock-fighting. These are the cages where they keep the roosters.
The make-shift houses were similar to El Dorado but the level of poverty here seemed much higher because their houses were directly next to and on top of a garbage dump
We always hear about how plastic bags do not decompose, thus the push and emphasis of reusable grocery bags.
These are years upon years of accumulated plastic bags that will take an eternity to decompose
The people who reside here make their living by scouring the incoming garbage that is dumped here, in an attempt to find recyclable materials to be sold
The other main source of income is to find reusable wood that can be converted into coal
As we entered this part of the neighbourhood, the smoke started to thicken
There is a big market for coal since it’s the most economical way to create a fire.
Since most of houses within this and other slums do not have running water and electricity, coal is often the method by which to cook since it is cheaper than gas
We approached the seaside
This area was once filled with shanties but during a devastating storm a few years ago, the makeshift houses couldn’t compete against the forces of nature. This is what was left behind.
With all the garbage around we were shocked that the kids were swimming in the water
Considering that every time it rains, all the chemicals from the garbage seep into the soil which eventually ends up in the adjacent sea. Thus, it’s highly unlikely that it’s safe to swim in these waters
We had to walk back through the coal production area
It was difficult to breath, we all had to cover our noses and mouths
In certain areas the smoke was really thick
Just walking by it made us realize how hard it would be to actually live in these conditions on a daily basis. We struggled during the 3 min walk through this section. Imagine having to live there!
We couldn’t fathom living in these conditions
In every community we’ve been to so far, there’s been a basketball court, even here in Smokey Mountain
We made our way back to the bus. Throughout the walk we noticed everyone was so welcoming and had big smiles on their faces, especially the kids
The most heartwarming thing is when a kid you just met surprisingly grabs your hand from behind and starts walking with you
When I see shots like this, it makes all the work putting this trip together all worth it!
The walk through the slums of Smokey Mountain was a real eye-opener. We thank our official guide for taking us through and giving us some background information about this poverty stricken neighbourhood.
If we never realized this before, all of us realize it now how fortunate we are to be living in Canada with a roof over our heads, running water, electricity, and all of our life’s common amenities.
Part III of Day 6 will feature our visit to
Avanai – the build site where last year’s group did their construction
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