By Trisha Pitts
Trisha Pitts and Chris Shillito just returned from the Philippines, where they visited all five of the CFCA projects there. This description comes from a visit to the Manila East subproject.
The contrast between the homes of the wealthy and the homes of the poor is just as stark as in the U.S., maybe more so. On our recent trip to the Philippines, we saw a huge building that was modern, sleek and full of windows as we were driving down the street. I asked our project staff what the building was, and they said it was the home of one of the wealthiest families in the Philippines.
Having just visited so many of our sponsored families’ homes, I was struck by the contrast.
Some of our sponsored families live in single rooms they have built along a canal that are maybe 5 feet wide and 10 to 12 feet long. A family with 6 children may live in this “house.”
One such house we saw had a battered dresser for clothes at one end and a card table with some kitchen utensils at the other end. That was the extent of the house. I asked the project staff where the family slept, and she said they probably move the card table out at night and all sleep on the floor, packed in like sardines. This particular family was trying to build an additional room, meaning they were collecting scrap lumber and other possible materials they can find to tack another room on.
There are many “houses” like this along the canal. The side of the canal has a ledge that is about 12 inches wide. This is the “main street” of the community, with a number of “houses” that have sprung up along this busy thoroughfare. The children scamper up and down without looking. I watched every step, knowing that if I wasn’t careful, I would end up in the canal. In this picture, Chris is standing on the ledge, pretending to dive in.
I asked the project community worker how the family might spend its day, since there is no TV or computer games, no toys, no furniture to dust, etc. She said the mother spends her day with the children, watching them and making sure they are okay. She might take some clothes to the community water tap to wash, and of course, she has to fix food for the family, but during all this time, she has her children with her. In the evening, after the children have been put to bed, the mother and father might sit outside and talk about their day.
It seems nice. Although we look at these “houses’ and cringe or feel sad, it is clear that they are more than just houses. They are homes, no less than any of ours.