When you think about the Philippines, often, the first thing that comes to mind is pristine beaches and lush palm trees. Rightly so as the Philippines is full of many amazing landscapes. However, if you push past this picture perfect tropical exterior, the matter of fact is that more than a quarter of the entire population lives below poverty line. If you look past the upscale cityscape of Manila, you will see the glaring disparity between the rich and the poor. Tucked away in an area which is often intentionally overlooked by society is a place called Smokey Mountain. Located in Tondo Manila, Smokey Mountain used to be Manila’s largest landfill. Despite being demolished in 2014, people still make a living by sorting through trash left behind in the area. People, both young and old scavenge through piles and piles of trash just to make ends meet. Two travelers, moved by their story, feel compelled to give back and encourage other travelers to do the same.
What started as a waste disposal facility for Metro Manila turned into a dump site with over 2,000,000 tons of garbage. Although abolished in 2014, this place is sadly, still home to many families. Its name derived from the continuous fires to decompose the endless mounds of waste. Families in the slum don’t just have to live with the filth, dust, and toxic waste, but are in fact, dependent on it. With no other alternative sources of livelihood, they spend their days endlessly sorting through plastic, glass, and rubber in hopes of finding things that they can sell.
Because of their need to survive, going to school is the least of the concern of the children as they all want to help their parents, any way they can. Every day, people wait for the garbage trucks to come deliver fresh garbage collected from different parts of the city. Together, they pick through whatever they can find and trade in their collections of plastic or aluminium in junk shops for some money.
Around the area are makeshift homes made of sheets of metal, cardboard and tires. With no access to clean running water or even sanitary toilets, the living conditions here are atrocious.When you walk around the dump site, you will see children covered in black soot as the stench of burning garbage fills the air. Discarded wood is burnt to make charcoal, filling the air with black smoke that both children and adults breathe on a daily basis.
How YOU can help
The Wandergive Project was started by the travel bloggers behind Adventure in You. After seeing so many beautiful things while traveling, they feel compelled to give back, while finding ways for other travelers to do the same. With your help, we are aiming to raise some money to help support Young Focus, an organization dedicated to helping the children in Smokey Mountain. Young Focus is a Dutch run organization that has set up two centers within the community which currently houses classrooms, a library and a computer room. Aside from their student centers, they also have programs to help malnourished children. For just $1, you can feed one child 3 nutritious meals for the day. The mothers of the children are involved in the campaign and are taught how to make the nutritious meals themselves.
Through your donations, we want to pledge our support to Young Focus to fund the feeding of 20 children for a month. Many of the children that they support are either severely malnourished with respiratory diseases contracted from the toxic fumes around them. They have established a child care center where they care for 25 children that need medical care. For more information on their project, you can log on to their website.
You can show your support by donating to this crowd funding campaign. Any amount, big or small will help make a difference in their lives. Please make note that all proceeds will be given directly to Young Focus International and will in no way benefit Adventure in You. As this is our very first campaign, we are nervous but looking forward to making a difference! If you want more details, please head on over to The Wandergive Project: Feed a Child Campaign
We hope to see not just an out pour of support for our chosen cause, but rather a start of a movement. A movement to begin giving back when we can, paying it forward, and helping those in need.