Pasay Cemetery: Christmas in the Time of COVID-19

Why We Need Your Help

Christmas and New Year’s Eve in time of COVID are going to be hard on all of us. Not being able to hug our family,  and not being able to gather with our friends. But for families living in poverty, who have been hit the hardest by lockdowns, this holiday season will be even more challenging.

Imagine that you live in Sarhento Mariano Cemetry in Pasay City, the Philippines, where nearly 300 families actually live amongst the graves in this public cemetery. Not out of choice, but because there is no other place for them to live. The families camp in mausoleums, build houses from wood scraps in trees, or sleep on top of cement coffins. These families have no access to running water and electricity, no sewage system. Many live on food scavenged from the trash that they collect. So many families in Metro Manila depend on this scavenged food for survival that they have a special word for it: "pag pag".

Over 400 children call the cemetery home. Most years, Christmas Day is just like any other day - an unending struggle for food, water, and survival. No Christmas gift, no Christmas tree, and no special meal. But this year, because of the COVID pandemic, where more than seven million people have lost their jobs in the Philippines, communities like Sarhento Mariano are struggling like never before just to get basic food on the table, to stay healthy. This Christmas will not be like any other day. It's going to be a lot harder.

And that’s why we need your help to make this Christmas period a little easier for them. We want to provide each family in the cemetery with a pack of nutritious food, hygiene items, small gifts and candy for the children, and other essentials. Each pack will include items like spaghetti and sauce, canned fruits and vegetables, rice, mongo (mung beans), peanut butter, bread, coloring books, toothbrushes, soap, lice shampoo, laundry soap, good quality reusable face masks, wound disinfectant, school supplies, a blanket, umbrella, water bottles, slippers and clothes for the children most in need, and much more. Please note that 100% of donations received will go directly to supplies for the packs – the program is entirely volunteer-run.

For all of us, this Christmas will be unlike any other Christmas. But let's make this Christmas for the children and their families in Sarhento Mariano a Christmas that they will remember not just for the pandemic and its additional hardships but for the joy that it can and should bring to all of us.

Who We Are

For over 10 years, our volunteer community group has been caring for the dogs and cats in an impoverished, underserved community in Pasay City, the Philippines. Our work serves several villages in the city, including the community of informal settlers in the local cemetery.

Prior to the pandemic, we also ran programs for the community’s youth. Our weekly kids program operated in a large mausoleum at the cemetery – for many of the kids who attended, it’s the only form of education they receive. The kids participated in basic lessons and creative projects, and had the chance to just be kids in a positive environment. We’re looking forward to restarting our kids’ program in 2020.

The Impact of Your Contribution

The burden of poverty and hardships that these children and their families face every day are unimaginable. For most, ours is the only gift they will receive. Let’s give them a Christmas to remember.
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Ashley Ginger
Langley, BC

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