My husband is Filipino and I finally was able to visit the Philippines in 2006. It seemed that every time we had planned a trip, I got pregnant!! So when we solidified our plans to visit his “home” county I became nervous. But any pregnancy was adverted and I actually made it to the Philippines.
I thought he had prepared me for the sights I was about to see. I expected to see poverty and substandard living conditions. However, I did not expect to see homeless, abandoned children fending for themselves on the streets of Manila (the New York of the Philippines). The most haunting of these images were those of the scattered bodies of sleeping children strewn over the sidewalks. After staying up throughout the most vulnerable hours of the night, they would sleep during the day on the warm sidewalks. A seemingly common sight to the inhabitants of the Philippines, they would step over these sleeping children during their morning commute to work. If I shut my eyes I can still see the little toddler girl curled protectively in the fetal position, her once white shorts now tattered and dingy. Her pink top was stained and ripped and her jet black hair was tangled as it lay across her little face shielding her eyes from the sun. As our taxi drove past her a huge lump formed in my throat and warm tears erupted from my eyes and flowed down my cheeks for all to see. Granted, I was missing my own toddler who we left with my parents but these feelings were more than just maternal longing. They were of one human feeling the suffering of another. I vowed at that moment not to forget the images that burned themselves into my eyes…and forget I have not.
The creation of IRM was fueled by these images. It’s all about the people!