Saturday, June 27, 2009
Kids from the San Pedro feeding program
The whole Feeding Program Staff!
Me and some kids from the opening day of the feeding program
I have now begun the actual job part of the internship which I must say hardly feels like a job. I have taken pictures now at 3 different events in different communities for various uses and it’s super fun.
Malabon, June 24
This is the 1st community I visited to take pictures and it is one of the hardest locations FH is working in the Philippines. The whole village is on stilts above a swamp that is covered in garbage. Because of this the houses are very small and the living conditions are poor. There are often slats in the floors of the houses that you can see the stuff underneath, and because of the weak foundation, it is not uncommon for floors to cave in altogether. Not only is garbage in the water, but oil, chemicals, and excretion of many animals. There is only about a 2.5 foot concrete path between the houses and sometimes only 2x4 planks of wood (scary to walk across when you’re holding an expensive camera). When there is rain (like now in the rainy season), everything floods. Because there is little to no work in the community or nearby, unemployment is high. The cycle is perpetuated in trying to find a job elsewhere because many are too poor to even afford transportation to another town or the city. Many kids can’t afford the commute to school let alone the uniform and supply costs. People suffer many health problems due to the water, lack of sanitation, and little food, and this is apparent in their appearances. It’s the most impoverished place I’ve ever been in my life.
Through FH, CDP children are provided school supplies, plus they involve the whole family in weekend activities, devotions, and health fairs. Only 1 child per family may be supported because they want more families to have the opportunity, and one child’s costs covered allows more money to the divided between the others. The woman I went with, Daphne, visits Malabon about twice a week and has great relationships with the people. It was great to see that FH is actually focusing on personal relationships like they claim, and Daphne claims the FH programs have helped the people over the past 3 years they’ve been established there.
The lack of space made shooting a bit difficult but I got some great photos of the kids who have sponsors (called CDP for short), families with CDP kids, the environment, and the area leaders. The kids LOVE posing with peace signs and silly faces and then looking at the pictures on the camera afterwards. It’s the way I’ve befriended many a child in my life haha. Despite the conditions, everyone was smiling and excited when we visited.
San Pedro Feeding Program, June 24-25
This is the project the other intern is working on the whole summer. This is a program for children too young to have sponsors (0-5 years old) and their mothers. The kids come and are fed a healthy meal after they are taught about health issues like washing your hands in clean water, proper bathroom behavior, ect., and even table manners! Meanwhile the mothers have their own session are educated about caring for their children, cooking healthy meals, and remedies and explanations for certain sicknesses. The program lasts from 1pm to around 5pm depending and will go until September. There are about 30 people total from the slums around San Pedro. The church bus picks up the moms and kids in groups and drops them off at the church where the activities are held. The children do not necessarily look malnourished, but their diets basically consist of little protein, fiber or vegetables and a lot of sugar and fat. The mothers are almost all very young (16-24), and many have more than 1 child there. It is the 2nd time San Pedro has done the feeding program.
I took photos at the opening when there were some short speeches and introductions made by the health official from the barangay, Pastor Dan from the church, and some FH staff. I also took some the 1st official day of the program. The kids are adorable! They also love making the peace sign and giggling after I show them the picture on the camera screen. Silly kids!
San Pedro, June 25
I walked around to find CDP kids in San Pedro yesterday, and of course it was the day of the typhoon. The kids didn’t even have school because it was raining so much, but there I am, my umbrella in one hand my camera in the other trying to shoot without getting the lens wet. What a challenge haha. Again, like Malabon, I took pictures of the kids in various states (posed, natural, silly face), families, the area, and in addition parents working (doing laundry, cooking, doing carpentry, cleaning).
I struggle a bit because it’s hard for me to go in only for a ½ day to these places and not want to stay and do more. I don’t want to just drop into their lives with my camera in their faces and never see them again. A little booklet I’m reading about serving the poor talked about the implications of “visiting” in the Bible, that when God “visits” people, He brings life, hope and redemption. I was challenged by this because I am “visiting” many communities and want this to be true of me, even in my short stays. Of course, the question is always how. I think it means bringing the joy of Christ with me when I am shooting, to affirm the children through smiles, little compliments (because my Tagalog is nowhere near to having deep conversations haha), and shared laughter. I know I will not be remembered for the rest of their lives, and my visit won’t be momentous or life changing as I tot around taking their picture, but I do want to at least momentarily make them happy or something. I hope I will be a good and purposeful visitor, and I already know the visits are good and enriching for me.