Enfants d’Asie is present in one of the major shanty towns, Ermita in Cebu City, The Philippines. The inhabitants of Ermita survive due to small jobs like fruit-sellers, touk-touk drivers or market stall holders. Their homes are made from various recuperated material and the alley ways that lead to them are constructed with whatever is to hand. Most of the shacks were built illegally on abandoned land, which makes dislodging them even more complicated. Squalor is omnipresent and access to water, electricity, hygiene infrastructures and basic public services is very complicated. An evacuation system of waste water is inexistent and so is dispersed in the alleyways which leads to the development of epidemics and other dermatological infections.
Irish R. Avancena, welfare assistant is responsible for the Ermita programme and shares her daily experiences in the heart of the shanty town:
“Ermita is a place where you see plenty of unpleasant things: betting and illegal games, drugs, young children playing in the street… but it is also a place where people live and battle to provide a better future for their children and they believe that education is essential in achieving this. The shacks are built from sheets of metal and other lightweight materials found here and there. They are often divided into small rooms each one housing a different family. I believe that better housing is a primary necessity for these families as they live in highly confined conditions and do not own what they live in.
Another problem is the health issue. Ermita is highly polluted and so epidemics spread very quickly and the children are the primary victims. I believe that the help provided by Enfants d’Asie is essential for these families who have irregular incomes. Covering the school expenses, distributing a monthly ration of rice and the regular moral support is invaluable. To have a child supported by Enfants d’Asie is an insurance for these families of a decent education resulting in a university diploma.