UNI-PLC Youth Payatas Projects
Poverty and inequality continue to pose challenge to the Philippines.
Economic growth has gone through boom and bust cycles, and recent episodes of moderate economic expansion have had limited impact on the poor. Great inequality across income brackets, regions, and sectors, as well as unmanaged population growth, are considered some of the key factors constraining poverty reduction efforts.
The presence of urban poor communities is a serious concern in the Philippines. National and local government agencies have been unsuccessful thus far in preventing their emergence and their continuous encroachment in marginal places like the Payatas Dumpsite. More poor people continue to encroach and become dependent on places like the Payatas Dumpsite because the perceived benefits are far greater than the health-related risks associated with dumpsite activities. Urban poor communities settle in open dumpsites because they feel that they are left with only two options: to scavenge or to starve to death.
Payatas is a symbol of urban neglect for the Philippines. People living daily with the sight and smell of garbage and families living out of its filth. Majority of the residents fall below the poverty level. Today, of the almost 500,000 residents, about 4/5 live in the shanty-town that surrounds the dump. Most residents live in semi-concrete homes, living near dumpsites augments whatever materials they could recycle for their houses/shanties. Ironically, the community is called "Lupang Pangako" which means the Promised Land.
The continuous migration of squatters to the area is alarming. A relatively high birth rate also contributes to the population boom. Women give birth amidst Manila's refuse, without safe water, electricity or professional help. The mortality rate has slowly climbed as well. The leading causes of mortality come from disease such as; diarrhea, upper respiratory tract infection, myocardial infraction, hypertension, pneumonia, TB, and malnutrition. At least 85% of the children suffer from 1st to 3rd degree malnutrition.
Twenty (27) years of accumulated muck and filth have turned into a mountain of garbage known as the Payatas Dump. Meager opportunities attracted the poor to settle in the area producing income by scavenging the dump. Women, men and children scavenge the waste from dawn to dusk, collecting cans, plastic, scrap metals, bottles and newspapers. The meager earnings made by one person are not enough to buy food even for a day. Whole families are forced to climb the mountain each day, hoping that together they can earn enough to feed everyone. Children as young as four years old must work in their daily struggle for survival. Companies require at least high school level education before they hire. Parents in most urban poor communities do not have the money to enroll their children in high school.
The most appalling sight of which are children scavenging for food, children that should be in school or enjoying their childhood. Life is hard in Payatas.
The UNI-PLC Youth Committee aims to help these children to have access to better nutrition and education through welfare programs and projects.
To improve the image of trade unions in the community through various outreach programs which aim to help eliminate poverty and child labor.
THE UNI-PLC YOUTH FEEDING AND REHABILITATION PROGRAM:
Since the start of the 2nd Quarter 2005, the UNI-PLC Youth Committee has helped finance the Feeding and Rehabilitation Program of thousands of children in the Payatas Area.
The 6-month long program is intended for severely malnourished children aged 7 years old and below and costs only P17.50 per child per day or a mere $0.40. Barangay Volunteers who help prepare and feed the children aim to provide them with at least one highly nutritious meal daily for the duration of the program or until they attain the ideal weight for survival.
The program starts with deworming the children to eliminate the parasites that prevent the absorption of nutrients at feeding stage and subsequently followed by the administration of supplementary vitamins.
The program was financed through various fund raising activities by the UNI-PLC Youth Committee like the “BINGO for CHARITY”, Payatas T-Shirts and Souvenirs Sale, Cake Raffle, and donations from supporters and UNI-PLC Affiliates.
The Payatas Feeding and Rehabilitation Program was officially adopted by the UNI-APRO Youth Committee in November 2008 during its Executive Committee meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Since then, the program was sustained through various fund raising activities by UNI-PLC and UNI-APRO Youth during UNI Conferences, Trainings and Workshops.
UNI-PLC YOUTH ONE-TIME-FEEDING PROGRAM
To address the needs of thousands of other children who cannot be accommodated in the six-month program due to financial constraints, a regular one-time-feeding is also conducted in the area. This will ensure that hundreds of children will have at least one decent meal in a month.
One-time-feeding is also being conducted during UNI-APRO Youth trainings and workshops in the Philippines. Participants are made to experience the feeding program first hand. They assist in the food preparation, entertaining the children, house visit and cleaning the area.The aim is for the participants to appreciate the real condition of the children and encourage them to make a difference.
UNI-PLC YOUTH OPLAN BALIK ESKWELA
"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime."
This general principle of alleviating poverty by facilitating self-sufficiency is the very foundation of UNI-PLC Youth’s Oplan Balik Eskwela. This program aims to address the problem on companies’ requirements of at least high school level education before hiring and provide decent and long-term employment to our beneficiaries.
Now on its 5th year, Oplan Balik Eskwela aims to provide scholarship programs and school supplies for the less fortunate children in Payatas. These children are also graduates of UNI-PLC Youth’s Feeding and Rehabilitation Program for the last 15 years. We believe that our efforts in feeding these children will not be fruitful if we don’t give them the education they need to have a brighter future.
Scholars are given PHP20 allowance per day or a total of PHP6,000.00 per year for their food and school projects. They are also provided with school supplies and uniforms at the beginning of the school year with a total cost of PHP1,500.00 per child per year. For year 2016 we have 30 scholars and 50 beneficiaries of school supplies.The number of beneficiaries is dependent on the number of willing sponsors and the funds raised every year.
SCHOOL BASED FEEDING PROGRAM
Due to financial limitations, we only have limited slots in our scholarship program.In order to help more children, we have to be creative and think of other ways on how to address these problems.
Tuition fee in public schools is free in the Philippines yet a lot of children in Payatas cannot afford to go to school. Children would rather work to augment the family income and provide food for everyone. In a country where over 8 million are food-poor, food scavenging has sadly become a norm for many families. Others call it trash, but for them, it’s their “meal of the day.” In the Philippines, these recycled meals are called “pagpag,” which roughly translates to “dusted off food.” Families scour dumpsites for what appears to be “still edible.” The sound of garbage trucks, carrying leftovers from fast food chains, signals meal time.
To address these concerns the UNI-PLC Youth committee launched the School Based Feeding Program. Instead of scavenging for food in the garbage dump, meals are provided to the children for the duration of the school year to encourage them to go to school.
UNI-PLC Youth’s Major Challenge
The UNI-PLC Youth was able to sustain these projects/programs for the last 15 years with the help of the UNI-APRO Youth fund raising activities.These past years, however, saw the decline in the number of UNI-APRO Youth activities wherein fund raising activities to support these programs were conducted. Thus, resulting in the shortage of funds.This mainly affected the implementation of the Feeding and Rehabilitation Program for the severely malnourished children in Payatas and the School-based Feeding Program which are the main beneficiaries of these UNI-APRO Youth fund raising activities.The funds being raised by the UNI-PLC Youth Committee is only sufficient to sustain the One-Time-Feeding every month and the Scholarship Program.