Christmas Campaign 2020


Philippines: Father's Refuge

children in school

The current situation in our Badjao village

Often referred to as ‘Sea Gypsies’, the Badjao tribe are a marginalised minority group living on stilted houses above the sea, with a livelihood centred around fishing and diving for pearls to sell - sadly at risk due to dwindling fish stocks and the current coronavirus pandemic. The community lives in extreme poverty; diseases are spread easily from litter, mud and human waste under the stilted bridges, and children are severely malnourished.

The pandemic has resulted in the loss of income for families, and children find themselves more vulnerable and likely to be deprived of their basic needs. Lockdown measures stopped almost all deliveries to the local area, meaning supplies in shops were low, resulting in a lack of resources for families. Most people live day by day: the widespread ‘no work, no pay’ policy has meant many have struggled. Fish prices are low: for the Badjao fishing community, this means much lower than normal prices for their catch of fish.

badjao children

Did you know?

Every day, 95 children in the Philippines die from malnutrition. Twenty-seven out of 1,000 Filipino children do not get past their fifth birthday.*

An additional 6.7 million children under the age of five could suffer from wasting – and therefore become dangerously undernourished – in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic*

150 million additional children have been plunged into poverty due to COVID-19*

*UNICEF 2020

What we are doing:

CRY supports ‘Father’s Refuge’, a centre providing nutrition support and information, education, and community support.

• We provide an alternative learning system (ALS School) for children who haven’t had the opportunity to go to school in their life.

• This year we started a feeding programme to support children who are malnourished, to prevent wasting or stunting - both of which have long-term negative effects.

• Throughout the pandemic, we have been providing food packs to families and children who would otherwise have nothing to eat.

• We are delivering health training to help prevent the spread of the virus and to keep the community safe.

• Families have been learning how to grow vegetables to sell and eat.

• Families in the Badjao community are often large and there is a very high percentage of children and youth in the community. Our food and hygiene distributions help large numbers of children.

Devis' Story


Hi my name is Devis, 24 years old and from the Badjao people. When I was 13 I attended a street lunch club run by the Father's Refuge Team. After a year or so I got very sick from TB and Acute Rheumatic Fever. The Father's Refuge Team took me in and gave me life-saving medicine which CRY helped to fund. They helped me finish school and be trained in welding and I joined the Father's Refuge working on farm projects. Earlier this year I became very unhappy; life felt worthless and I started taking risks as I didn't care if I died.

I went back to the Badjao village to rest and one night I heard screams. I went outside and saw a small child, still, floating face down in the swamp water we live above. I dived in and pulled him out. I thought he was dead. Then suddenly he coughed up the slimy water and started crying for his mum! As I gave him back to his mother I heard God's voice in my heart say, "This is what I did for you. Your life is precious, don't waste it"

It's so good to be part of the Father's Refuge Team helping to save others lives as they and CRY helped save mine!

(photo above: The boy Devis saved, with his mum)

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