While the city of Manila was still under strict COVID-19 lockdown protocols, the Tondo sponsor site knew there were children in their neighbourhood who didn’t have enough food. In particular, the site staff worried about the neighbourhood of Baseco, one of the largest slums in Manila.
When restrictions lifted enough for site staff to go out, they began delivering pre-packed meals every day to the children of Baseco – none of whom had Chalice sponsors. But the staff longed to see the children eating fresh fruits and vegetables. They imagined a Baseco community garden, cared for by the families.
As soon as gathering limits allowed, it was action time. Thanks to generous supporters of Chalice’s nutrition program, the site staff selected a plot of land by the shore and set to work making their vision a reality.
“The parents and the children expended energy for the lot to convert the lot to a garden,” the staff describe. “Together, they cleared and earth-filled the land, and joyfully toiled and toiled.”
The staff taught the families how to make garden beds using “eco bricks” – plastic soda bottles densely packed with un-recyclable plastics. It’s an inspired way to ‘upcycle’ and minimize plastic pollution. Three local partners delivered training on sustainable urban gardening, waste management and upcycling.
“They happily tended their garden, taking turns in watering the plants,” says the site. “The vegetables grow and grow, while filling the mothers’ hearts with pride.”
And then came the best part – harvesting the fruits of their labour, especially in a time when fresh market produce prices were soaring.
“With their produce, they are now able to serve the family nutritious food,” the site beams.
The community pooled their resources to build a structure by their garden where they can hold meal programs alongside other activities. The site staff were “left in awe” at how the community bonded over this initiative. Now, children from Baseco can be sponsored through Chalice. The site staff can’t wait to see the children thrive with new support, and see their energetic parents engaging in family circles and continuing to be forces of change in their communities.