Fighting Hunger in the Philippines

As part of our global initiative to reduce childhood hunger through #RANoHungryChild, our Regional Representatives have been tasked with finding local solutions where we can make the biggest impact. One of our Regional Representatives in Asia, Marjorie Nagpacan, uncovered a growing need in her community in the Philippines. In her own words, she describes the situation in Manila, and what one organization is doing to help.

A child wanders through The Temporary Housing Complex in Tondo, Manila. Photo courtesy Marjorie Nagpacan.

The Situation at The Complex

“The ‘Temporary Housing Complex’ in Tondo, City of Manila, houses the former residents of the so-called ‘Smokey Mountain’ dumpsite which was closed down years ago. ‘The Complex’ was only supposed to be a temporary solution to the housing problem of the city. But the government seems to have decided that the entire project is not a priority, and the whole complex had slowly become dilapidated as the years went by.

“Furthermore, as residents grew in number, so did the garbage. Over time, ‘The Complex’, one of three built to house uprooted and homeless citizens from Smokey Mountain, became another dumpsite. Everywhere you look there is garbage. In fact, some of the residents’ houses are made of recycled materials from the very garbage in the area. One can smell the stench from far away. The most common job was to mine and recycle trash. Some people even search for leftover food amongst the garbage, washing and re-cooking the food (called “pagpag”, a Filipino term literally meaning to brush or hit away dirt) so that they could eat it or sell it to their neighbors.

“These are the conditions that the children of the ‘Temporary Housing Complex’ are subjected to every day, some even from the day they were born.

Volunteers lead classes for the children at the daily soup kitchen. Photo courtesy Marjorie Nagpacan.

Daily Soup Kitchen

Project Pearls, a local non-profit organization, has set up a daily soup kitchen for the children, along with some pregnant or nursing mothers, as well as frail grandmothers. The daily soup kitchen takes place from Monday to Sunday at 9am-10am, with learning activities afterwards for the children, such as the toy library and Brain Booster lessons. Volunteers from all walks of life also hold mini-classes after the said activities, including learning English. The whole thing ends at 11:30am, and the children go to their respective houses, presumably to have lunch at home.

Marjorie continues, “I volunteered last January to one daily soup kitchen day and saw firsthand the effects of poverty and the subsequent efforts to alleviate hunger, at the very least, to these 100+ kids. One volunteer told me that the children used to be very malnourished. But with the help of the soup kitchen, they became healthy. Still, some of the children are still clearly malnourished, although not as much as before.

“The resident volunteers cook the food early in the morning, so the food was served hot. The children first, and then their mothers, and some grandmothers, all fall in line to receive a bowl of food each. They can return for seconds as long as everyone has been given food once and there is still food left. A dose of vitamin C was given for each child after eating. The food can vary every day from pancit (a soupless noodle dish with chicken meat and vegetables), champorado (rice porridge with cocoa), and macaroni soup with vegetables.

“I served the food together with three other volunteers. We stayed to assist and supervise the children for the toy library and Brain Booster activity as well. All the children are lively and sweet; they love interacting with the volunteers, as well as giving and receiving hugs. Their minds and hearts seem to forget the living conditions they are born into, at least during the mornings (when the soup kitchen takes place).”

Providing Staples

In some parts of the world, including the Philippines, the US dollar has a lot more spending power. With the money raised for the #RANoHungryChild initiative, Marjorie was able to provide the soup kitchen with a large amount of food — enough to feed the women and children for quite some time. She purchased and delivered the following staples to the kitchen:

  • 60 packs of noodles
  • 6 sacks of rice
  • 6 gallons of soy sauce
  • 4 gallons of cooking oil
  • 40 packs of milk (320g each) for ages 5+
  • 3 boxes of milk (2kgs each) for ages 1-3

The conditions they live in are harsh, as you can see from the photographs. But it is our hope that helping to provide nutrient rich foods to the people of “The Complex” will increase their quality of life. One thing is for sure; they have such an unbreakable spirit that with some of this stress alleviated, they will be able to continue to improve their community.

Random Acts is on a mission to find opportunities to help where people are falling through the cracks. Have some ideas? Contact your local regional representative so we can help!