Meena Bazar, India
This slum area which is at the cross section of Makati City and Taguig City has three distinct levels; the street level, the middle level, and the creek level. The slum is highly polluted; sewage from homes flows directly into the creek contaminating the waters. The people living there are forced to travel to incinerators and boil the water. As you travel down to the creek level, it is hard to breathe. The air is heavy and moist with a pungent odor. Nevertheless, the creek itself is a magnet for community and commerce. On the creek banks, you’ll find the only fresh breeze and a thriving laundry business. Due to the polluted water and the long walk and effort to have it boiled and brought back to the area, residents pay others to get their laundry washed, creating a profitable activity for individuals who run laundry businesses. Even in such harsh conditions you see individuals living happily in the area, like the innocent small boy, peeking out the window radiating positive energy.
Further down, you’ll also see Thess Lugto, a 30 year-old single mom, who with the help of her 6 year-old daughter and an 11year-old niece, also enjoys the fruits of serving her community by washing clothes. She enjoys the walk to boil the water and only worries about getting burned occasionally. She says that if you work hard and do a good job, you can make a living which is better than traveling to the city and getting paid low wages.
I also ran into “Lady Kobe” as I came to the street level. You can see the image of Ara, an
11 year-old girl who loves to play basketball and dreams of becoming Kobe Bryant from the LA Lakers. Ara was full of energy playing basketball with an old soccer ball. Although she is very athletic and vibrant like any thriving basketball star, if you look closely you can see that her teeth are severely rotted. She mainly plays with boys during her free time and during the day she attends a government-owned school. According to Ara, she hopes to be a star someday and make money so her family can move from the area into a “real home” like you see on TV.