I have shied away from visiting temporary relocation shelters for many reasons, one of them being the lack of dignity afforded to the residents in these communities.
These bunkhouses are separated by a single sheet of plywood which offers very little in terms of privacy. There isn’t even a ceiling to shield the interior from the heat radiating from the hot tin roof.
Outside, buckets and basins holding stored household water line up the alley. Bathing is done in the open by young and old alike, but with clothes on.
A typical bunkhouse is approximately 100 square feet. It serves as the living room, dining room, bedroom, entertainment room, and whatever room it needs to be. It is barely the size of a single hotel room and and it doesn’t have a toilet.
Months have already passed and there is still no update as to when a permanent shelter will be provided, or if there will be any. All they know is that one day they will have to move out again.
But the worrying is best left to the adults.
Kids should enjoy their childhood, and they should enjoy their cold “halo-halo” on such a hot summer day.
or an ice candy.
They should have time to play games..
..or to cook their own barbecue. I had to step in and tell them that burning plastic wasn’t healthy.
But the real reason for coming to the Abucay temporary bunkhouses was to fulfill a commitment to a project which our camera club has decided to undertake. Our project for this day was to mentor and guide young photographers in taking family photos of the residents of this community. The photos were then printed, framed, and given to the residents who were just as happy to have something to hang on their wall.
The photographers themselves are evacuees who come from 3 different temporary relocation sites. They have taken a short course on photography, thanks to UNICEF, and we are providing them a continuing education through an indirect partnership with UNICEF.
These siblings now have a group photo in their home. Not this particular shot, but very close to it. My young photographer friend did a very good job of capturing their lovely smiles.
This might be the first time this kid saw herself in a photo.
Even the adults got so excited when they saw their photos.
This activity was a success and for sure our young photographer friends were very proud of themselves. Best of all, the residents each received a priceless souvenir to remember this day.