Section title text:  Archived News.

 

     Bagong Silangan Center,
     Payatas, Metro Manila, Philippines

In 1992 about 500 families coming from different parts of Metro Manila were relocated in Area 6. Each family was given 32 sq meters of land to build their new house. What a chance to have a permanent residence! The titles have not yet been released, but they have a claim on their house and lot.

The dumpsite, Payatas, where every day about 200 trucks bring the garbage from Manila, is very close. Many people from Area 6 are earning their living collecting garbage and selling it for recycling. Recently the dumpsite burnt over a couple of months. For weeks, the area was covered in smoke; children and adults did not stop coughing and many caught skin diseases from the pollution caused by the burning plastic.

After 10 years collaborating with the Vincentians in Payatas, the FCJ sisters decided, in January 2002, to start their own program. They were lucky to get the use of the house situated in Area 6 of Bagong Silangan. “Bagong Silangan” means new dawn.

     

The house is hidden behind a jackfruit tree bearing many fruits, providing coolness and keeping some of the smoke and dust out. The living space in the house is about 50 sq meters. We created a small area for the children and we have a larger space for our tearoom/ meeting room/ computer room, as well as a space for a sink and some cooking facilities.

     

The FCJ Center opened at the beginning of May 2002. FCJ Sisters, some lay helpers and several local women all work together closely in this project.

After initial consultation with the people in the area, it seemed that the women of the area were in most need of support. Therefore the program started with two main components;

  1. the physical and spiritual well being of the women
  2. livelihood programs.

Since education is the best investment for the future the project also wanted to support college students in their efforts to acquire a good formation. And it was also seen as a priority to offer children different ways of playing and learning.

So far over 25 women been able to avail of a loan of 4,000 pesos to start income generating projects of their choice. Every week they pay 160 pesos for return capital, 20 pesos for interest, 20 pesos for personal savings and 5 pesos for a mutual fund. Without this loan from the Center, the families become indebted to money-lenders who demand an exorbitant interest. What the women do to generate income are creative and far-reching. Some open little sari-sari shops where the neighbours can buy almost anything they might want in their simple homes, others cook and sell their what they have made, others buy items like bottles, plastic, aluminum, newspapers etc. from the dumpsite and sells hem to a dealer, another runs a small welding business.

Some women have chosen to earn their living by sewing curtains. Others are buying and selling meat products to households. One lady, also a widow, buys and sells biscuits. One family travels at 2:00 o’clock in the morning to the port to buy fresh fish and to sell it in the area.

Another woman, contributing to the income of her husband, a tricycle driver, buys tins from the dumpsite, raises pigs and chickens, and also sells fresh fruit to the school children. She does all that besides caring for her 6 children, the youngest one still being breast fed.

We are amazed at the variety of project proposals of these enterprising women.

                  

Since the Scandinavian Children‘s Mission offers many programs and activities for the children, we only want to offer them a quiet space where they can play with Lego and puzzles. We hope to build up a small library where they can read or research.

Story telling with puppets and drawing gives further opportunity to learn to listen, to reflect over the meaning of the story and to integrate it into everyday life.

Every morning and afternoon the Center becomes a tearoom. Those women who want to escape for a short time from their small houses can come and have coffee, tea or juice, biscuits or cakes. They can find a comfortable place to relax, to chat, and to read a newspaper

Our Lady of the Poor.
Our Lady of the Poor

There are also opportunities for the women to make greeting cards which they sell, to make articles in macramé or to make other seasonal articles.

They may also wish to learn the computer with Charlie Rotol, a young man who came through the FCJ programme for assisting students from the area of Payatas and who is now a graduate in computer design and programming. He is also available to teach computer to college students, and to some out of school youths.

But there are also plans for the future!


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