Noel Ricardo is a fish hauler who lives in the impoverished Filipino community of San Juan, an illegal shanty town built out over a tidal river. Over the past few years his family has been badly affected by ongoing health issues that have drained them financially.
“Clouds of mosquitoes breed in our area,” explains Noel, “infecting us with dengue fever and other dangerous diseases. After the hospital bills we struggled to pay for food and school fees as well.”
San Juan’s pollution issues come from local residents throwing their household waste into the river under their homes, mistakenly believing that it will form new land on which they can build. Many of the local children, particularly, grow sick from the polluted environment in which they live.
“I tried to protect my family by keeping the area around our home free from waste,” says Noel, “but this angered my neighbours who thought I was acting above myself, being a hero. Eventually they set fire to our home to try to drive us away. All this time we became more and more sick from the stench around us.”
However life began to improve for Noel and his family when Signpost International began to work in their local community. Through the child sponsorship scheme his daughter was able to continue her studies at high school and the whole family benefitted from medical insurance cover.
“Now the whole community is being changed by a new programme of clean water, health, sanitation and hygiene,” smiles Noel.
Signpost’s sanitation programme is funded through the Big Lottery Fund and is putting in place the infrastructure for communal toilet facilities and clean water as well as a community health and education initiative.
“Finally everyone understands that this garbage is killing us and I am no longer a lone voice in the community,” says Noel.
“Last month we had a clean-up and collected almost 200 bags of rubbish together – we are all happier and healthier, and no longer need spend all our wages on medical fees.”
“Life is good!”
If you would like to help Signpost International help more people like Noel, then please donate here.