Saturday, November 27, 2010

Basureros, or "Oh, to live on Smokey Mountain"

But when you own a big chunk of the bloody Third World, the Babies just come with the scenery...
                                                      -Chrissy Hynde

In the Philippines there have always been poor people. People are born and live on the streets their whole lives. This little boy (age 11), was wondering around Intramuros in old Manila. He wore and oversized t-shirt with no footwear. He was begging for money or food. Many of these children are orphans. Some are left behind as their parent(s) forage through garbage for something to eat, and recycle garbage for money.  Many of these recyclers ( basureros) make about 60 pesos per day. About $1.25 . Many of these children are obviously malnourished.

Within feet from where I sleep, near my hotel there are several homeless people sleeping on cardboard under building overhangs with their children.  This newborn sleeps under a bank overhang on the sidewalk in Quezon City. The pollution from diesel vehicles and elements pose some of the many problems this child will suffer.

Rugby Boys has a whole different meaning in Metro Manila. On my visit I noticed packs of boys and girls many pre-teen, sniffing inhalants in a bag. I later found out that they are sniffing a contact cement for a drug induced effect. One such 'tween told me that it keeps him from thinking about food. (notice the bag next to the foot of one orphan. The boys sniff inhalants out of these bags...). These boys are called Rugby Boys.
Sometimes the poverty is overwhelming, however there is a direct correlation with over population and poverty. Its common to see a 22 year old women with four kids in-tow living on the street. Education is free in the Philippines, but you do need to buy a uniform, have shoes, and need to buy lunch. This is out of reach for many people here. I really don't know what the answer is to stop the cycle. Maybe family planning, maybe education. President Aquino is trying to pass the RH Bill (reproductive health bill), which would allow family planning on a local level. He has wide support except from one organization: The Catholic church. Ironically the church is a huge land owner in the country, and collects money for the poor ( like this collection statue), yet  I could not find any Catholic charities involved helping the poor. Once again, the church is using money to try to alter government.....

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