Today, poverty is still one of the most pressing issues the global community is facing. It exists even in our own community, but some of us never fully understand how serious it is.
In the Philippines, I normally see street children walk around the streets barefoot, begging for food or money. I got so used to it to the point that I convinced myself that there is nothing I can do, so I kept on ignoring it even though I sympathize with these children.
Last December 30, 2017, World Youth Alliance Laguna Chapter went to Barangay Sto. Niño, Sitio Baloc, San Pablo City to host a Christmas party for kids. The route to that area was breathtaking due to its rich farmlands, but when we reached our destination, the scenery that we came to appreciate was replaced with landfills and the sweet scent of air faded into the stench of decaying garbage. Still, residents persist to live in the dumpsite. “Our family had lived here for a long time already. There’s no other place to go,” said one of the residents. Their houses are made of patched woods, aluminum roof, and tarpaulins just between the trash mound and the San Cristobal River, where they bathe and do laundry.
There were fifty-two children, ages one to seventeen and our team prepared gifts and food for them to enjoy. Seeing them in the dumpsite with no access to clean water and sanitation broke my heart. Residents are forced to scavenge from the dumpsite for reusable materials that can be sold in local junk shops, which serve as their main source of income. Some of the men are construction workers or market vendors while women stay home to take care of their children. Despite their hard work, their earnings are just enough — sometimes, not sufficient enough– for their daily expenses.
This made me realize that our society should have more concern for other people. We should think of innovative ways to solve this issue because human beings are the best resource we have. I know that we can do something. Poverty is something that we shouldn’t get used to.
“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked, and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty,” Mother Teresa quoted. These people — these children — deserve to feel wanted, loved, and cared for, regardless of their economic status, personal appearance, and background because there is something that can never be taken away from them— and that is their dignity.
Written by Ivy Vanessa Castillo from the World Youth Alliance Laguna Chapter