See what life is like in Escopa 3 in Manila, Philippines.

Roughly the size of three square blocks, Escopa 3 is part of barangay — or slum neighborhood — home to 7,000 people in Manila, Philippines. No one here owns the land, so the risk of eviction by the city is high. Escopa 3 residents live in such tight quarters, it’s not at all uncommon for families of 12 or more to live together in less than 200 square feet of rented space. Single room homes are literally stacked on top of one another, and built from any material families can find. Hanging laundry, dishes drying in racks and bags of recyclable plastic bottles fill the thin, dirt-and-concrete footpaths that cut through the barangay. Jobs in Manila are scarce and many people survive on what they can scavange, like plastic bottles or tin cans. Many families live in extreme poverty, surviving on less than $1.25 per day. Some families have access to running water that may trickle in through a pipe or hose, but few are connected to sewage. One of the biggest struggles families face is providing for their children. Many don’t make enough income to meet their kids’ basic needs, such as shoes, food, medical care or school costs. School is difficult to access and expensive. In Escopa 3, Holt sponsors support preschools that ensure students have a safe place to spend the day and at least one warm meal. Sponsors also provide support to families, helping them launch small businesses or learn new job skills. Keep reading to learn more about Escopa 3 and how you are changing lives in this community!

“It is easy to lose hope here. You try to find a job over and over, but there is no work. You work long days and nights and don’t make enough money to feed your kids. I never learned to write, so that makes it hard to find work. I live with my aunt and her four kids, our grandma and my two kids.” — Escopa 3 resident, anonymous.

“I have to take care of my niece’s kids. Before my husband died, I made money selling charcoal. But now, I have my store and sell rice, sugar, fish, eggs and other groceries. I’m the only stall selling dried fish. After I repaid my first loan, I borrowed again so I could start selling canned goods.” – Victoria, 50, received an interest-free $100 loan to open a small business.

“It’s hard to keep my grades high. Because of my sponsors, I have a scholarship to go to school. But I have to take care of my four younger siblings. Since my mom died, I’m the one who cooks for them and cleans. But without the support of sponsors, I wouldn’t be able to make it. My life is not easy, but I’m grateful.” — Ruffa, 17, college freshman.

“We live in this part of town because my dad is blind. Someday, I want to own a business like him.” — John Paul, 9, whose dad received a loan to open a small grocery stall. Many people with disabilities live isolated from others in a separate part of the barangay.

On a good day, I sell about $11.50 in toys. My Dora the Explorer dolls are the most expensive item at $4.50. I need to make enough to take care of my three children and two grandchildren. I live just two blocks from here and before we received help to open this toy stand, I didn’t know what I would do. Now, I make about $3 to $5 per day and I have regular income to cover our living costs.” — Nora, 50, received an interest-free $100 loan to start her small toy shop.

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