About 15 miles south of Manila lies a village called Dreamland. In stark contrast to what its beautiful name implies, Dreamland is an impoverished community located just a few meters off a dumpsite along the shores of Rosario, Cavite.Houses that stand in its small land area are mostly made of light materials that are not able to withstand the vicious waves of the nearby sea. Aside from the stinking smell of the waste-site, residents here endure the absence of life’s basic needs such as clean drinking water, nutritious foods, electricity and even toilet rooms. Tzu Chi volunteers discovered the piteous condition of the residents during a relief mission in the wake of typhoon ‘Dodong’s’ (Wutip) onslaught in the area in August 2007. About 300 families who suffered from severe damages of their homes and possessions were given complete set of relief goods. Since then, it has not been too long before the residents take a brighter and better path in life.
Dreamland residents either fish or scavenge for a living, earning an average daily income of P100-200. Giving off a clear mirror of extreme poverty, Tzu Chi volunteers further learned that there were times the residents would look for food from the dump to fill their hungry stomachs.
Determined to help eradicate poverty in this community, Tzu Chi first included the Dreamland residents in their list of long-term beneficiaries who receive rice and other food supplies every quarter of the year. However, after months of going deep into the innermost part of the village, Tzu Chi volunteers uncovered the deeper state of poverty and sufferings among the residents. They carefully evaluated the situation and finally decided that they will provide monthly aid to the Dreamland residents.
Besides provision of rice and other food supplies, Tzu Chi also conducts medical missions and even allowed an estimate of 250 students gain access to education. Efforts prove fruitful, as residents learn to give back their blessings. They started filling up PET bottles with coins until Tzu Chi provided each family with coin banks. After three months, Tzu Chi volunteers were surprised that two large jars overflowed with coins as every family poured in their coins and started to become a part of Tzu Chi’s endeavors in helping the needy.
Despite having less, more than 200 families of Dreamland, Rosario, Cavite, regularly donate a peso a day or P30 a month to Tzu Chi’s charitable programs every month, making them official donors of Tzu Chi Foundation.
For more than two years now, Tzu Chi Philippines has been extending help to the needy families of Dreamland. Taking a further and bigger step this time, Tzu Chi aims to provide long-term aid to the residents by staging livelihood programs such as doormat- making.
The program may not be able to lift all the residents’ living condition overnight, but it sure did boost many residents sense of dignity by giving them the chance to better their lives on their own sweat and sacrifices.
Tzu Chi volunteers believe that like the lotus flowers that grow on murky waters, the residents of Dreamland would also blossom from their miseries and turn Dreamland into a land of relief, contentment, and compassion to others.
1. Rodolfo Delantar
2. Cirilo Alfabete
3. Nelson Alcana