Taytay is a densely populated municipality in the province of Rizal, Philippines. Currently, it’s the second most populous municipality in the country after Cainta and it is also known as the “Woodworks and Garments Capital of the Philippines”.
So much for the introduction on Taytay.
In February 2015, I had signed up to join a church group to visit Taytay. The specific area was a slump called Fishport. Before the trip, I had prepared myself to face the most challenging of living conditions. But what I encountered was beyond what I could have imagined. What was more disheartening is to see the disparity of living standards just a few kilometers away, where stood a huge shopping mall. I witnessed people with lavish spending on one hand, while others who couldn’t have the opportunity to feed themselves.
Most of the men living in Fishport are working as odd job labourers. The women there are taking care of the children and managing the household. Average monthly household income is about 5,000 Peso (USD103). To further support their families, many women in Fishport sew rugs at home, using leftover fabrics from nearby garment factories. With the additional income, they hope to get their children to attend schools and possibly to get out of this vicious life cycle.
I was deeply moved by the people in Fishport and wished I could offer some assistance to get them out of poverty. After getting back to Singapore, my friend and I have thought about it and decided to facilitate them with a skill to better their livelihood. We think that in this way, it is somewhat better to teach a person to fish than to give a person a fish itself. Hence, we initiated this project: F.I.S.H. (Friends in Social Harmony) to train them proper sewing skills. Since Taytay is the Garments Capital of the Philippines, there will be sufficient employment opportunities for them to work as a seamstress. Armed with professional sewing skills, we hope that they will be able to get proper jobs in garment factories and have better incomes.
With the help of the Fishport Christian Alliance Church, we secured a training place in the Church itself. The training started in May 2016 and it is opened to all residents living in Fishport. Till date, we were proud that 15 students have officially “graduated” from the first training program.
To continue supporting the F.I.S.H. program, the students have made some beautiful aprons for sales. Proceeds raised will be used to sustain the training program so that more people can be benefited. With your generosity, we hope that our F.I.S.H. program can be expanded and duplicated to other areas in the Philippines one day.
Any contribution from you is very much appreciated. For single contribution of SGD25 and above, one piece of the hand-made apron will be delivered to your doorstep.
Many thanks for your kindness!