My visit in the Slums

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GMI member Andreas Schüßler from Hösbach visited our projects in the Philippines with our director Tobias Schüßler in April. He reports:

“Crushing heat, tired dogs, houses without a floor – and in between: Laughing children – that’s what I perceive when I’m in a slum for the first time in my life. Apart from me, Tobias and two employees of Project Life Subic who take care of GMI’s projects are on site, too.

We pass young people carrying garbage bags. Tobias would explain me later that they are trash collectors who are doing their part to help their families cover their financial needs.

The four of us walk through the narrow streets, one after the other, as it is too narrow for two people to walk next to each other. We are on our way to Carina. She had used a micro credit to open a Sari Sari shop and had now already received a second loan, the rates of which she has always paid back on time.

Carina lives with her husband and three children in a small hut in the slum. It’s unimaginably small: The family cooks, eats and sleeps in a really confined space. The welcoming is extremely friendly. Space is created immediately so that at least some can sit down next to the bed. Even though the store is integrated here, moving around the sales area is almost impossible. Carina talks about her life: The slum is right on the beach; during rainy season, it frequently gets flooded, the entrance is therefore slightly elevated. They have built their hut on the property without a permit. Again and again, the rumor circulates that the owner would return, meaning Carina would have to leave her home. That is why no permanent buildings are being built here. There are no floors; my feet are directly on sand as I sit by the bed. Carina says that rice and charcoal sell best, because people use charcoal to cook as it is cheaper than electricity or gas. There is no cooling, because no one has air conditioning to make the heat bearable.

 

Carina plans to use another microcredit to buy a used fridge to sell refrigerated goods.

On our way back, something happens that I wouldn’t have expected at all: Children are running after us. Laughing. Happy. That would be what I take away from this trip. That people who have nothing can be so grateful for life. That even children growing up in the slum can be happy.”