Cemeteries, documentaries and a crazy start!


Back in the Philippines again working with the charity, and though it’s been a year since I was last here it seemed as if I’d never been away, felt so easy and comfortable getting back into it. So, the main project we’re working on right now is a documentary about the projects ASCF has. There’ll be a short version of less than ten minutes, and a longer version, maybe close to half an hour. With the kind of equipment my friend has we’re doing a really professional job and there’s possibly some business opportunities that can come out of this :p Will give links to that when it’s done.

Part of what we’re trying to highlight though is the character and the situations of many people born into poverty. What amazed me about the kids at the children’s home I stay at is how happy they are. In England if a kid had been through the kind of trauma they had they’d probably be in counselling and scarred for the rest of their lives. I remember this one case where a girl got raped and because of the stigma and everyone else’s reaction she eventually dropped out of Uni. Here, however, the kids are taught not to think of themselves as victims. That crappy stuff has happened to them, but what happens to them does not define them. They can still do and become whatever and whoever they want. There’ll be some stories proving that later on.

But for now we’re doing the story of a girl called Crystal, who was born in a cemetery. She would sleep inside the empty graves, or those that had been emptied or robbed, in a community of hundreds of people doing the same. Millions of people round the world live on the streets, begging and scavenging to survive. For many they’ve run away from abusive homes, perhaps because of physical and/or sexual abuse, and they’ve run away from that situation. That takes courage and is a good choice, but with nowhere else to go they end up where other street kids are and group together.

Not only the dead sleep here

So Crystal grew up in that kind of environment for a while, but was taken into the children’s home when she was six. She now wants to be a social worker, maybe an architect or a model/fashion designer, and also to start a foundation for street kids as she understands how they live. For the documentary, we took her back to a cemetery, and it was pretty emotional. Hundreds of people live there, kids playing around in graves. Bags of bones on the floor, rubbish piles everywhere. Afterwards I thought I’d caught leptosporosis, which is an easy disease to treat but kills many people if they have no access to healthcare – it was one of the biggest killers during a typhoon here not long ago. That people die from it is a symptom of the messed up healthcare the world provides – that they can’t be bothered to provide the simplest of treatments (a short course of cheap antibiotics) as they don’t deem their lives to be of enough worth.

So we did some filming and took a load of photos. I did some magic with the kids and soon enough about 20 kids were following me round everywhere with huge smiles on their faces asking me for more magic. What amazes me is how quickly they trust you and how happy and open they are. It’s weird to think that the people I would trust most are people like them. Street kids have had plenty of opportunities to steal expensive equipment from me, and others, yet it tends to be the richer people who steal (from my own experience too).

I’ll post links to that video when it’s finished but it’s gonna be awesome!

So, thought for the day: what if we had been born in a cemetery? What would our lives be like? and what would we expect from others if we were born into that kind of poverty?


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