x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Philippines charity drive pulls in Dubai support

Campaign will send soda-can ring pulls to the Philippines for an art project that will help get children out of rubbish slums.

DUBAI // A group of photography enthusiasts in Dubai hope to improve the lives of children living beside rubbish dumps in Manila's slums by collecting the ring-pulls from drink cans.

About 8,000 ring-pulls have so far been collected by individuals and community groups since the Lightform International Photographers Guild kicked off its campaign in June.

The pulls are recycled as part of an international charity drive to aid some of the poorest families in the Philippines. The hope is that children, who earn money by scavenging, can instead go to school.

"My sister asked me why I'm picking them up on the streets," said Jecelyn Palomo, 39, a sales associate in Dubai, who keeps the ring-pulls she collects in a plastic water bottle. "I'm not ashamed to do it or get my hands dirty because I know it's for a good cause."

The aluminium pulls will be sent to families living in Manila's slums, including at the Smokey Mountain rubbish dump, who make them into handbags, purses, jewellery and accessories.

A percentage of the profits from the sale of these items helps to provide the families with a living wage.

"The support we've been getting from individuals and groups in the UAE has been overwhelming," said Myrna Rebulanan-Anderson, the president of Lightform.

The group will gather all the ring-pulls on November 23 and ship them to the Philippine Community Fund, which supports the children's parents through a livelihood programme that provides an alternative to waste picking.

On the same day, Lightform will lead members of the Filipino community in Dubai in a clean up at Al Mamzar beach. Their goal is to remove rubbish such as plastic water bottles, plastic bags and cigarette butts.

It is part of a four-day drive to clean up the emirate in a joint United Nations-Dubai Municipality initiative called "Clean up the World" that begins on November 20.

"Lightform's main advocacy is to create environmental awareness through the power of the lens," said Mrs Rebulanan-Anderson. "The UAE is our second home and our participation in this clean-up drive is one way of showing our gratitude to this country as well as our concern for the environment."

About 6,000 Filipinos, including Grace Princesa, the Philippine ambassador to the UAE, are expected to take part.

Those who wish to join both campaigns may contact Mrs Rebulanan-Anderson at 050 7654343 and 055 2308886 or email lightform@eim.ae.

rruiz@thenational.ae