Since living in Manila, I have been a member of a group of ladies called ALIG (Alabang Ladies International Group)…basically a social and charitable group of women from all over the world, who through work postings have found themselves living out in the suburbs of Manila in our neighborhood of Alabang…and I’ve found great friends through ALIG, but hadn’t yet felt like I’d found my “place”, but more recently I have joined the ALIG Charity team after seeing the amazing efforts to feed evacuees who were forced from their homes due to massive flooding in the Philippines. The feeding program began over six weeks ago, and was feeding over 1,000 victims DAILY…over the last 2 weeks we have gone to feeding evacuees three times a week and are still operating only on donations from ALIG members and their family and friends. We meet daily around 8:30am to prepare the coolers of rice, sausage and egg that we will serve to the evacuees that day.
Today we visited the South Side Dumpsite, which is basically exactly what it sounds like. It is an area that the government uses for a landfill, and poor families have “moved in” surrounding it (literally their homes are ON the landfill and dumpsite) in order to scavange for things to sell such as bottles, plastic etc. These families live in conditions you simply cannot imagine until you see them…I had to wait to get home to cry the first time I visited because I didn’t want the residents to be embarrassed.
ALIG funds a visit to the Dumpsite each Friday where we bathe over 60 children from the site and feed them a hot meal. Here are some images from our visit today, you can see that some of the kids do not even have clothes to wear so they spend their entire day running around the filth completely naked. I think after two years of living here, I have finally begun to feel like I am spending my time wisely , and I hope to be able to continue to work with the Charity Team for the remainder of my time in the Philippines…xxHDLK
It’s not easy to say these are “beautiful”, but they capture something striking that is difficult to put into words.
When we visit these areas, I think many of us are often distracted from the dismal surroundings by the endearing grins and uncommon patience of these children waiting for their meals.
But these photos are of those moments in between the smiles wherein you cannot ignore the dark circles under their eyes, the signs of illness and disease on their skin and scalp and the desperate conditions that are their world.
And then they smile again…
Amazing photos Heather!
It’s difficult to say these are “beautiful” photos, but they capture something unique and unforgettable.
I think volunteers are often distracted from the dire conditions by the warm and endearing smiles of the children as they wait with uncommon patience for their meals and a little attention.
Yet your photos capture those moments in between the smiles. This, for me, is the moment when volunteers walk back into the shanty houses and realize they have to watch where they step because they are walking over decaying garbage. When the nostrils of the volunteers are enveloped in the hot and foul smells of a landfill that has been baked in the hot Philippine sun. When the dirt and multitude of sores and rashes on the children are most clear.
Your photos are of the moment when the awareness strikes that this is the everyday reality for these children, through no fault of their own.
And then they smile again and we go home.
Powerful photos Heather. Your photojournalistic skills are remarkable.
Thank you for sharing.