For the past 5 months have been away from everything that is familiar and dear to me and have been living in Cebu, Philippines.
I am here on a fellowship programme organised by the Dekeyser and Friends Foundation that ends this month end. We are building a community centre for a village that will rehouse 50 scavenger families living in dumpsites mainly the Umapad dumpsite in Mandaue City. There are over 250 families at the moment living in the dumpsite and families have an average of between 5 to 9 children.
You would think 50 families is too small, people MUST be scrambling to get out of the dumpsite, but unfortunately i learned this is far from the truth. The families refuse to leave the dumpsites and choose to live there as scavenging is the only life they know. And although most of the money they earn goes into buying medical supplies, they do not take that into consideration.
The organisation we are working with JPIC - have had to convince these 50 families to move and it has taken them around 3 years to do so.
I have never, ever seen such filth in my life. Although the Philippines has a population of up to 95 million people and Malawi has only 12.6 million people, 1/3 of my tiny country is covered by water leaving 2/3 land but still the garbage we produce i think is being disposed properly but here dumpsites are as high as 10 to 15 metres - there are hills of garbage and it seems no one seems to care. Yes there are NGO's trying to help in change but there is not much visible change seen.
I will be going home with mixed feelings thats for sure, but i still have hope and believe that at least i have been the first step in helping one of those 50 families to move out of the dumpsite and hope their children's lives will fair better than theirs have.