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Granting poor families’ right to proper food

Friday, 15 September 2017 10:10 AM | ARTICLE BY | Luisa Cabato
Agnes Solamo, 45, gets the vegetables she bought at the market. She has been teaching her family to adopt a vegetarian diet since becoming a beneficiary of the Long Term Care Assistance Program of Tzu Chi Foundation. Before, her family would be forced to eat leftovers from fast food chains and restaurants due to poverty. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】

Story Highlights

  • Tzu Chi volunteers on September 15 visited two long-term beneficiaries in Tondo, Manila. Once living off of the waste of society, the families have begun to lead better lives courtesy of compassionate hearts.

Life is a series of tests. There will come a point in one’s life when his or her perseverance will be measured through trials. But the lessons from such experiences will make one’s life on Earth meaningful.

Living in the slums of Tondo is never easy for Agnes Solamo, her husband Vicente, and their six children. The Php250 per day Vicente earns as a scavenger isn’t enough to provide for his family’s needs.

Every day has been a struggle until a kind-hearted woman came to help.

Social worker Analiza Trono from Anak-Tulay ng Kabataan (Anak-Tnk), a Philippine-based NGO that has been helping children living in extreme poverty since 1998, informed and helped them to be enrolled the Long Term Care Assistance Program (LTCAP) of Tzu Chi Foundation. The family has benefitted from the program for one year now.

“We referred these families to Tzu Chi Foundation and they are very deserving because they are very cooperative in this community,” says Trono.

Agnes volunteers in Anak-Tnk whenever she has free time. She helps in repacking relief goods for calamity victims and the feeding program for children and elders.

Due to poverty, her family was forced to eat “pagpag” or leftovers from fast food chains and restaurants. Local scavengers go to fast food chains to collect and recook food waste to sell to their neighbors. Her 13-year-old daughter, Vanessa, was hospitalized after consuming “pagpag.”

“I was rushed to the hospital and my stomach really felt bad,” says Vanessa.

Her heart torn into pieces because of that incident, Agnes promised to never let her children eat “pagpag” again. Now among the LTCAP beneficiaries, the family has been managing to save for other expenses like clean food and her children’s allowance for school. She has urged her family to go vegetarian after knowing its wonderful effects to the body and the environment during the monthly Charity Day.

“I want to thank Master Cheng Yen for these blessings of rice, which is a necessity for me and my family. I have also learned a lot from Master Cheng Yen, especially the one about being vegetarian,” shares Agnes.

“Now that I am a Tzu Chi Beneficiary, our life has gotten better. Before, we always have to think where to get our next meal,” adds Agnes.

Extreme poverty also forced Analie Estrada, 35 years old, and her family to eat “pagpag.” She used to scavenge with her ten-year-old daughter Diana to sustain their family’s needs.

“I remember when we used to scavenge and, after we worked so hard for it, someone just stole it all from us. I was so sad. (working the whole night and looking for things to scavenge and sell and someone just stole it all away),” says Diana.

Since being referred to Tzu Chi by Anak-Tnk, the Estrada family has been benefiting from the LTCAP for two years already. Of the 40 kilos of rice the family receives every month, she sends 10 kilos to her relatives in Nueva Ecija.

“Every time my daughter receives her monthly rice assistance, she shares it with us,” shares Analie’s father-in-law, Joselito Estrada.

She repays the compassion that other people give to her. They don’t have to scavenge anymore now that their burden has grown lighter, thanks to loving souls around them. The family saves used plastic bottles to donate to Tzu Chi’s environmental advocacy.

“Now we enjoy the rice that is blessed by Tzu Chi Foundation. We don’t need to scavenge any more. Thank you so much, Tzu Chi Foundation,” adds Diana.


Last Updated: Friday, 15 September 2017 10:10 AM

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