Wednesday, October 15, 2008

PaaS: Poverty as a Service

Life is about money and for the better part, the lack of it.

I thought I knew much about it.

My UP upbringing led me to a work with the marginalized and poor communities within Metro Manila and the neighboring provinces north of it. Had no desire to be anything else.

I fit right in with my usual torn jeans and shirt get-up, walking through potholes and narrow pathwalks. Sometimes, I just rode my bike for about a 5 kilometer trip to the community. It was perfect as far as I'm concerned.

I get to see kids and talk with parents. I don't need to wear office attire. I get to learn about the really valuable things in life.

Like, being with volunteer parents for a shared group meal worth $2 five days a week. It's not just food but communion. I get to see their living conditions but rarely do I see or hear about their worries.

I meet kids playing barefoot and unkept most of the time. Yet, their smiles are sufficiently brilliant to ward off the health concerns I usually spew out in horror. Saw a lot of them everyday that after a few years, I am not just a community worker but just your regular community wanderer.

I can be comfortable with meeting parents discussing about health and life issues just as I am comfortable playing with kids and teens at the usual makeshift concrete politician-sponsored community playground. But if there is anything I am uncomfortable with, it is having nothing else to offer to ease their burden since I've gotten so much from them about what's important in life and the perspective from the world of nothing.

Not everybody has been granted that privilege. Did the rounds of that for about 15 years until family demanded most of it. Thought I was the one giving the service.

Grossly mistaken.

Until then, I will be forever grateful and will always remember. Maybe someday, I can continue and return the favor.