Visiting with the aboriginal Filipinos in Simbahan

by Margret Müller/SHU, 2011/10/24

It seems to be a global rule that the aboriginal people of a country are also the poorest part of the country's population. Only several hundred metres from this day's mission location, Simbahan, live the "Agda", the indigenous people of the Philippine Islands. They are the people who had already lived on the Philippines before the establishment of the Spanish colonies.

Although our trip was very short, I felt like I had scrambled down the ladder of poverty by some more steps. Judging them only from their appearance, I would rather have associated this people with Africa than with the population of an Asian country.

Currently, the children in Simbahan cannot attend school. Photo: humedica/Margret Müller

The small, humble wooden huts were severely damaged by the typhoons, the school was destroyed, and numerous goats went missing. None of the children has ever seen a toothbrush. They cannot attend the regional public school, "because they are bullied by the local children and are afraid of them" - says social worker Elvie Gabalfin.

In the 1990s, all aboriginal inhabitants of Borokzero were killed during a massacre. The army wanted to fight the rebels living in the region and ordered the inhabitants to leave. As the Agda did not know anything about this campaign, they stayed in their houses, were thought to be rebels and the entire population of the village was killed by the army. That is why the name of the village that has been set up once more a short time ago is "Borok - Zero" - starting from zero.

A father asks us to adopt his infant child. Yesterday, the child's mother died from the consequences of giving birth two months ago. He cannot pay for a funeral.

The mother of the undernourished infant died of the consequences giving birth and now the grandmother has taken care of the child. Photo: humedica/Margret Müller

One hour after our arrival, half of the village assembles at our medical station. The grandmother comes to see us with the two-month old baby.

It is undernourished, as milk powder is only used sparsely, and it suffers from diarrhoea, since it drinks too much water. Therefore it additionally suffers from a severe skin infection that could, however, also be attributed to the lack of sanitary articles.

We can offer treatment for all these problems. For the child's mother, however, we arrived two days too late.

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