19th Apr 2012
On Wednesday we start our 3rd house. This house belongs to a woman who has 6 children, 5 by her first husband and 1 by her new husband. It is with the new husband that she will be living in this house with. He is keen to help us build which is great.
Ariel is part of this family, who I mentioned in a previous blog. We’ve all grown quite attached to Ariel while we’ve been here. He is a kind boy, a boy of 10 or 11. He is smart and we all see fantastic potential in him. When I look at him my heart breaks a little as I really want him to succeed in life, but how does he have a chance when this is where he lives. What is succeeding in life anyway? In our culture and in Scotland succeeding in life is going to university? Is it being able to by a house? Is it having children, being financially secure, being a good person?
What is succeeding in life in the dumpsite? I think it is surviving, having food daily. A typical life for a Filipino woman my age would not be one of career first, family second. It would be no career and they would have 5 children already. That’s just how it is. Children go out to work; we’ve seen children working on the dumpsite from the age of 3. The woman stays at “home” cook rice and has more children. Who are we to say what succeeding in life is?! Are these children happy? Yes! Are the children in Scotland happy?
The younger woman who we’ve met through the charity are educated and the have dreams, primary school teachers, nurses, accountants. Education is critical here to improve the health and living conditions of the people of the dumpsite. That’s why when we find out from Ariel that he doesn’t go to school we are shocked because he is smart and he can speak good English. With some education I think he could do really well for himself. A better life? I wrestle with this phrase, but deep down still want more from him that what is currently mapped out.
The reason he doesn’t go to school is that he doesn’t have a birth certificate. The reason he doesn’t have a birth certificate is that his parents don’t know his birth date nor are the willingly to pay the 300 pesos, £4.50, to receive the document to enrol him in school. Neither do they want him to go to school as then he won’t be able to work for them. They simply live on a day to day basis thinking only about survival and food. How can you fault that? When the step-father smokes that’s when you can. When Ariel’s original father spent the money that was given to him for Ariel’s birth certificate on gambling, then you can fault it. It amazes me that in this day and age that there are children out there who are starving and children that have no clothes to wear. How can we have so much and the children in the Philippines don’t have the basic necessities to survive.
We’ve asked the Philippines Christian Foundation, the charity we are working with, to take Ariel to the government for his birth certificate, we want to pay for this. We also want to sponsor him to put him through school. We all love Ariel and would all happily take him home with us to Scotland.