We start with some sad news for this update, as it is our duty to inform you that last week one of our scholars passed away. Justin was 14 years old and has been battling chronic health problems his whole life.
Due to chronic heart and lung problems, Justin looked about half his age. Stick thin and physically scrawny, Justin was nonetheless mighty in spirit and displayed a sharp wit. He was a student of the Fairplay School for several years and had lived entirely in Payatas, until his family were relocated to Montalban earlier this year.
It will also never really be known if Justin had contracted the coronavirus, of which he would have been in the highest-risk category due to his chronic health issues. Due to the lockdown, most medical facilities are not operating fully, included post-mortem services. There’s just not enough testing going on in the Philippines for an accurate idea of how widespread the virus is, and those living in poverty are especially at-risk.
Varying groups have supported the financial costs of the wake, funeral, and related financial pressures for the family.
Justin’s fight ends. We will continue to fight for those who were born in similar situations, born into poverty, children who had little to no chance from the very first moment.
We take this moment to say goodbye. We lost this battle and can only hope some good can come of this situation in the long run. For now, we will mourn.
Fairplay Food Packages Reach 104 Families
Fairplay food packages are now distributed every week to 104 families. For our scholars and their families and long-time members of Payatas FC, this week the support included:
- 5kg of rice
- 1kg of monggo
- 1 piece of upo
- 1kg of pumpkin
- 1kg of eggplant
- ½ kg of string beans
- 10 blocks of tofu
Start of SAP Release
Payatas was also incredibly busy on the day of distribution this week. Masses of people were at the local barangay hall (local council) as it was announced late the night before that the SAP (Social Amelioration Program) was to be released.
This is meant to be the government’s financial support for families during the lockdown, with between P5,000 and P8,000 to be given to roughly half the families in each area. On May 4, the release of the finances had finally begun.
This situation has everything; the good, the bad, and the ugly. The good is that some families will finally receive financial support during this time they are not allowed to work. It should help cover the food costs of the month under lockdown.
The bad is that it has taken so long; this was originally planned to help get families through the first month and is only now, well into the second month, being released. And the ugly is how poorly organised this whole process has been. With masses of people descending on the barangay, as they were told to do, the crowds of people have undone any purpose of social distancing for the past month.
The only hope is that many people will realise how effective leadership is crucial, especially in situations like this. The difference in the experiences of the Philippines and Vietnam, the USA and South Korea, China and Taiwan, or the UK and Germany, is effective and transparent leadership. The former countries have been paralyzed by the virus, with mounting cases and a death toll far greater than the official counts (read this Economist article). The latter countries either stopped the outbreak or dealt with it effectively enough for their healthcare systems to manage.
As we have seen, it is literally a matter of life and death. Demanding accountability from our leaders is crucial.
Stay safe and stay well. One day we will be able to look back on this time and take the lessons from it. For now, take care of yourself and those nearby.