Tanza, Rizal - Philippines
By: John Kazaklis
Trash dump communities around the world typically lack many things that we are accustomed to having in the West: nutrition, infrastructure, education, clean water, and livelihood opportunities. These communities are on the fringes of society and social services and government programs rarely reach their residents. So how can one help meet the needs of these forgotten people?
Trash Mountain Project is one of very few organizations that focuses on reaching trash dump communities around the world. Through partnerships with local leaders, TMP strives to empower locals through self-sustaining programs, such as education. This is taking place in one of their partner communities in Tanza, which is located on the outskirts of Metro Manila, Philippines.
In June 2016, Kalinga Christian Academy of Tanza opened its doors for its inaugural school year in the trash dump community of Tanza. With over 200 families in the vicinity of the school and with a large trash dump only meters away, Kalinga was designed to offer quality education to the poorest of the poor. This segment of the population would very rarely have the opportunity to send their children to a school of that caliber.
Through winding dirt roads and the smell of sour waste filling the air, the setting for Kalinga is very unexpected but also very intentional. It is easily accessible to families whose lives rely on the trash dump. Although parents may not have many options for livelihood outside of working in the trash dump, they now have a chance to send their children to a school that could break the cycle of poverty and improve their future.
TMP strongly believes in implementing sustainable programs through local leaders. This is why Stanley and Noreen Rabago have been the vessels for many life-changing initiatives in Tanza. The Rabagos pastor a church adjacent to the trash dump and Noreen has taken the role of school headmaster for Kalinga. They have been able to successfully develop a strong team of local leaders, teachers, and volunteers to impact the community and help run the school. With its first school year well underway, it is very evident that lives are being changed in Tanza.