Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Counting My Blessings!

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About one billion people live in slums and the highest concentration of them can be found in Asia. Emma Joseph took these photos in the Philippines where about 20 million people live in slums.

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One tenth of slum dwellers live in the capital Manila, in neighbourhoods like this one in the Tondo District. Tondo is one of the oldest areas of Manila, and dates back about 1,000 years. But the past has been erased by the present. Today it's one of the most densely populated places on earth. There are 80,000 people per square kilometre, many of whom lack adequate water, housing, sanitation, education, health and employment.

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Alicia's house is a two minute walk from Estella and Cricencio's, and she is one of the lucky few who was given rights to her land by the government who once owned it. "I have the deeds," beams Alicia, a single mother with two children. But her smile fades as she reflects on the reality of living in the slum. "I live about 20 metres from the river," says Alicia. "Every year when the typhoons come, my house gets flooded, and sometimes I am knee deep in water."

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The river which runs through Tondo is a great source of entertainment for the many young people who live in the slum. Children spend hours swimming in it, but parts of it are choked with garbage. Some of the slum dwellers, like Estella, admit that they throw throw excrement in, because they have no toilet. The river is so polluted that it poses a serious risk to health.

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This woman is fast asleep on a table in the alleyway underneath the bridge. She is oblivious to the constant sound of children at play or doing house work.

I don't know about the rest of you reading this, but I am counting my blessings! That's for damn sure!


EO said...

i am enjoying your blog immensely. i am from the philippines and maybe one of those 'counting blessings' too. though i work hard - i have 16 hours of work a day, online...i work from home because i have mobility problems. what you said about Tondo and all is quite true and i am glad that this aspect of the country is being brought forward too. all we see of the Philippines are the superb beaches and all for tourism. i am so inspired and amazed by your blog. Love and lights to you!

Two Feathers said...

Thank you so much for your comment, I am delighted that you are enjoying this blog. Love and lights to you as well!