Photos : 1. Ruth - 2. Richard - 3. Family life at Ruth's house - 4. School homework at Ruth's house - 5 et 6. Richard's house

Life in quarantine in the Philippines

Philippines - April 2020

We are all impacted by the current health crisis and lockdown but to different degrees.

As in France, the Philippine government has taken measures and the inhabitants are under Enhanced Community Quarantine at their homes..

We wanted to know how our beneficiaries felt about COVID-19 crisis and asked Ruth and Richard a few questions.

Ruth lives in the relocation area of Sacme Prime Town Housing (Tanauan) and is a dry fish vendor. Richard lives in the Cavite area and has 3 children.

They agreed to confide in us their feelings about this unprecedented situation and to share with us a few images from their daily lives.

More than ever before, solidarity between confined people, even on the other side of the world, is important!

Eau et Vie: How do you and your family feel during this period? How do you cope?

Ruth: I and my family try to be calm about this present situation as if it’s just a normal day. We can do nothing with it, because it’s already an actual scenario, so we just need to deal with it. To become a responsible citizen in this time of crisis, we contribute by staying at home and by applying the proper hygiene practices, especially proper handwashing during critical times, as what we’ve learned from W&L hygiene sessions. Since I’m a dry fish vendor, every time I go out of our house to sell dried fish, I’m always wearing a face mask, and hand gloves. We also apply social distancing with my customers. To cope with our daily basic needs, my siblings are also helping me to have an income; they sell halo-halo (a Filipino dessert), and barbeque. So far, only the Barangay Local Government Unit has distributed relief goods to us which are more on food. But we don’t rely on the support from the government because it’s just very limited. That’s why we have to make a living for us to survive in this pandemic.

Richard: The situation is very difficult for us especially that we have no money and savings to survive this enhanced community quarantine. So for the question on “how we feel about it”? Worry. We are in deep worry that we may no longer survive this crisis in the country. It is difficult to fathom how we are going to survive. We only survive with noodles and sardines right now. We are worried that the stocks might not sustain long enough for the whole quarantine period. What if the stocks won’t be enough? What if we can no longer afford to buy food? It is hard to tell if we can still survive.

Eau et Vie: How is daily life going?

Ruth: Most of the time, when I’m not roaming around to sell dried fish, I’m just staying at home with my family, while “babysitting” my nieces and nephews. We watch TV and eat together. The children are now getting bored because they’re just staying inside the house for over a month now. Aside from doing the household chores, I also tutored my nieces and nephews who are in grade schools with their online classes (mandated by the Department of Education). Our father is also a daily frontliner at the Local Government Unit as a rescue car driver. We also have a curfew inside the relocation. At exactly 8:00 PM, everyone must be in the house already. Policemen are always roving the community 24/7.

Richard: For us, we have to stay at home because of the enhanced community quarantine, we don’t go out unless it is necessary or we need to volunteer as watchmen in our community

Eau et Vie: What has it changed for you personally?

Ruth: Because of the quarantine, I and my family realized that family matters. It taught us that having quality time with our family is very important. We now starting to understand each other better though we some have indifferences – better relationships among family members are being developed by us. We also realized that material things don’t matter at this period, and we learned how to humble ourselves.

Richard: What changed us personally? Before, we don’t worry at all. Before, we have no problem on paying our debts. Before, we don’t worry on what to eat. Now, we are full of worry whether we can still carry on and survive this crisis. Can we still go on with this crisis?

Eau et Vie: Do you feel any changes in the slum? (Calm, Anxiety, solidarity etc.)

Ruth: During the first week of lockdown, barangay officials were experiencing some challenges on its implementation because there were still children playing around, and swimming in rivers. Gradually, it’s being followed since the barangay officials already coordinated with the parents to check on their children. There was solidarity in the community because W&L volunteers, barangay health workers, and barangay officials are helping each other in monitoring the community’s situation through shifting schedules at the barangay’s checkpoints (entrance and exit). Fortunately, there were no negative incidents around the community.

Richard: No we can’t be calm at all. Because we always have anxiety whether this situation will end soon or we can no longer survive this quarantine. Yes, we worry so much. We hope that this will end soon to end the worries we feel. It is hard to be ill. We don’t want to be infected, so we have to follow the rules being implemented during this enhanced community quarantine. We also salute the government in doing something to save the people from being infected. We must also realize that the aid of the government won’t be enough. We have to do something to ease our worries.

Continuing to provide them with access to water free of charge is a strong and vital gesture for them, we could not leave them with the added worry of no longer having access to water. You too, you can help them by contributing to our emergency fund.