Josh West was the London Bus Driver selected by the BBC to travel to Manila, the capital of the Philippines, to experience working in ‘The Toughest Place To Be … A Bus Driver’. Whilst making the first documentary Josh was deeply moved by the vastly different living and working conditions he experienced in Manila and he wanted to do something to change things.
He contacted danceaid to see how we could work together to provide education, opportunity and hope to children and families forced to live and work on the streets of Manila to earn enough money to survive.
Today you can donate to Manila’s street children online (by clicking the donate button to the right of this page), by text, or you can take a child off of the dangerous streets of Manila by sponsoring a child just 50p a day.
Click here to read about Josh’s return to Manila with the BBC.
Find out more about life on Manila’s streets…
• Manila is the most densely populated city in the world.
• It is officially one of the world’s ‘mega cities’.
• 20 million people call Greater Manila ‘home’. And this number is growing constantly. The population set to double in 30 years.
• In Tondo, where danceaid works to bring opportunity to street children, 90,000 people per square km live in one of most overcrowded areas on the planet.
• People flock from the countryside of surrounding provinces to the capital city to find work to feed their families.
• The millions who migrate to Manila every year to Manila, frequently find themselves living in the cities slums. Some are adjacent to open sewers, where the smell is unbearable.
• Rogelio, the Manilan Jeepney driver who welcomes Josh into his home and job, travelled 200 miles south, from a traditional fishing village, to find work in Manila.
• Rogelio’s self-built home measures 10ft x 10ft and is home to 10 people from 3 generations; grandparents, children, and grandchildren.
• It takes years to build a Manilan home, adding breeze block by breeze block when there is enough money to buy them.
• Little concern for health and safety and building standards means Manilan homes are often dangerous places to live.
• 50% of Manilans live in poor quality housing.
• There is a huge gulf between rich and poor in Manila.
• There is no safety net for those who cannot work or earn enough to feed their families; no benefits, no help whatsoever.
• One third of Manila’s population lives on less than 80p per day.
• Josh points out in the documentary – ‘If I was born here i’d be in the same situation as you. It’s just by chance that I was born in London‘.
• As a London Bus Driver, Josh gets paid more for an hour’s work than Rogelio gets for a whole day’s work.
• Filipino families often include 10 children.
• In Manila’s biggest maternity hospital, often 4 women have to share one bed. In each ward 100 babies are born A DAY!
• Contraception to stop women falling pregnant is not free in the Philippines and few can afford it. Politicians are trying to change this.
• There is strong cultural opposition to contraception from one of the biggest influences in the country – The Catholic Church.
• 80% of the Filipino population attend Catholic mass regularly.
• Many view children as a blessing and a valuable resource to the family so they want to have lots of children.
• The problem is these families often do not earn enough money to feed their children so many end up on the streets.
• Many believe it is a sin against the church to take contraception so they do not take it even if they can afford it.
• Those that do take contraception often beg for forgiveness.
• Many are hopeful that the option of free contraception will become a reality in the Philippines in 2013 but there have been many delays (check out this article to read more).
YOU can change things for the people of Manila today – Donate to Manila’s street online (by clicking the donate button to the right of this page), by text, or you can take a child off of the dangerous streets of Manila by sponsoring a child just 50p a day. Please do what you can to transform a life of poverty and suffering, to smiles and opportunity. Thank you.