In Metro Manila areas Haligi ng Bata, Incorporated (HBI) has 1,216 children beneficiaries in their 12 project areas. Aside from the sponsored children, there are 1,190 family-beneficiaries in Metro Manila. These families are supported under the various projects of the Child Sponsorship Program.
The Metro Manila families may be living in different communities – some are living by the banks of the Manila Bay, some are living in relocation sites while most are living in the Metro Manila slums. Though they live different lives, one thing ties them together – Poverty. According to the most recent HBI records, most families are one-breadwinner families with an average of six children. With only one parent earning an average of 126 pesos a day, it is very hard to imagine how an impoverished Metro Manila family survives.
Most heads of the families/breadwinners in Metro Manila earn income as fishermen, factory workers and manual laborers. Only a few breadwinners are overseas Filipino workers and fewer have jobs with benefits (medical, housing and social security).
With regards to the Metro Manila sponsored children, out of the 1,216 sponsored children, 628 are boys while 588 are girls. 635 are elementary school students while 581 are high school students. The average school grade of the Metro Manila sponsored children are ranging from 80% to 85%. Among the sponsored children, only 3 to 7 children drop out from school due to peer pressure, preference to work rather than to study and other factors.
In the La Union project areas where more developmental programs for the indigent are implemented, the breakdown of beneficiaries is as follows:
- 30 children and families from Sudipen, La Union directly supported by the Child Sponsorship Program of ICARE – New Zealand
- 100 out of school youths and underemployed parents in Sudipen, La Union who are vocational skills trainees through the support of ICARE-Australia and CO-OPERAID Switzerland.
- 121 children and families from Pitpitac Elementary School, Luna, La Union are supported by the Ylenia Foundation’s Adopt-a-School Project
- 814 students of San Agustin Elementary School and roughly 600 community residents of the San Agustin community supported by the Trafigura Foundations School and Community Development Program
- 2,940 schooling children from 13 public schools in Luna, Bangar and Sudipen, La Union are supported by the Rural Reconstruction Project and other projects of the Child Sponsorship Program (library improvement and education assistance)
In total, HBI is aiding 4,605 schooling children, parents, out-of-school youths and community members in the La Union project areas.
The La Union communities are either farming or fishing communities. In Sudipen, La Union, the townfolks’ main source of income is planting rice and root crops, and pasturing livestock (cows, goats, hogs and chickens). The approved daily minimum wage in a rural community like Sudipen is at 228 pesos but according to records culled by the HBI team, our sponsored families earn an average of 3,000 pesos per month, meaning they only earn 100 pesos a day.
One factor that affects the people’s capacity to earn more is the fact that the lands they till and the livestock they pasture do not belong to them. In short, they are merely caretakers of lands and animals, and are only paid a small amount per day – and sometimes, they are not paid at all. Because of the bleak financial prospects in the communities, there are some community breadwinners who choose to be overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and work in foreign countries as household help, caregivers and laborers. A typical Sudipen family with an OFW breadwinner earns an average of 15,000 pesos.
In Bangar and Luna, La Union, majority of the town dwellers are fishermen who can earn as much as 300 pesos or as little as 20 pesos per day, depending on how much fish they caught. Because of their unpredictable capacity to earn income, majority of the families are poor and do not have the means to provide all the needs of every family member. This problem also contributes to the bigger issue of child labor. In Bangar and Luna, it is not an uncanny sight to see children as young as four years old who work as stone pickers instead of going to school.
On the other hand, the San Agustin project area in La Union’s capital city – San Fernando, is a depressed community where majority of the residents are either poor fishermen or casual laborers who earn between Php 50-150 a day.
In terms of number of family members, an average La Union family has six members consists of two parents and four children. The same average is applicable to all families supported by HBI whose families have an average of two parents and four children who are all going to school.
Lastly, in Bayanihan-Habitat, Talisay City, Negros Occidental, there are 120 families being supported by HBI through the Group Sponsorship Program. Majority of the families have one breadwinner who work as drivers, plantation workers, fruit farmers or laborers. Earning an average income of 120-150 pesos per day and with an average of 5-8 children per family, it is quite difficult to budget such a meager income for so many needs.