Families in Tondo (as well as in Navotas) in Metro Manila tend to live in condemned buildings, poorly maintained public housing, under bridges, and in huts built over water with little or no sanitation or safe drinking water. Most of the 70,000 people living in these communities depend on garbage sorting for recyclables for income. Even after the infamous Smokey Mountain dump site was officially closed by the government, garbage has continued to be dumped in a nearby, lesser-known, unsanitary dump site. Children are unfortunately an important part of the labor force and drop out from school or have no access at all to education and, in many cases, are malnourished and at risk of abuse.
A Purple Center scholar walks through his community in “Temporary Housing.” The communities are adjacent to an unsanitary landfill, which was closed to waste pickers in 2013. Recyclers now must sort through garbage by either “volunteering” on the garbage trucks and sorting through it along the way or by collecting it from businesses in the surrounding old downtown districts of Chinatown, Divisoria, and elsewhere. What is not recyclable remains.
The Purple Centers is headquartered in Tondo, Manila, beside the old Smokey Mountain dump site. We anticipate opening a smaller field office in the “temporary housing” community in order to offer even more immediate health and social services to the community.
Education and art facilities. The Tondo center hosts a private school for uniquely disadvantaged children and youth in the surrounding community. Space is also dedicated to students in our growing public school sponsorship program, which includes a new “Saturday School” for tutorials, arts, and activities. The center offers a library, computer lab, science lab, and studios for art, dance, and music.
Community kitchen. The center is home to a community kitchen, offering free breakfast and lunch to students in the Purple Centers’ private school and community meals during especially difficult days of the monsoon season (June-November). This summer, the kitchen will host a cooking school where parents of malnourished children will cook and learn together how to cook affordable, healthy meals.
Health clinic. The center employs three registered (licensed) nurses and one part-time doctor. The clinic, which is complete with a pharmacy, is open 5 days a week. Every student in our education program receives an annual wellness checkup. We are a licensed government referring center for the prevention and treatment of tuberculosis as well. We offer referrals and cover the cost of diagnostic testing, treatment, and medicine. Our nurses also spend nearly every morning in health and medical outreach to our communities.
Innovative, efficient design. The Tondo center is built from recycled container vans from the surrounding port area. It also maintains one of Metro Manila’s largest solar power installations. Nearly 60% of our energy is powered from the sun.
101 solar panels were installed at the rooftop of the center in Tondo which help reduce the electricity consumption by about 60%.