What is helping?

Can you see Shelia below in the intense heat?

Can you imagine the street edges strewn with the debris of long grasses, tree and leaf litter, broken bamboo sticks or the thick smoke or the piles of fire.

Shelia and the other women of Botongon are clearing the public spaces of anything that might hide little pockets of stagnant water and the places mosquitos breed. The cleanup is a direct response to the growing number of Dengue cases here in Estancia: more than 100 since January.

A bout of Dengue to only one member of their family could cost them more than two-months salary. And how would they pay that? Probably borrow the money from opportunistic street folk at enormous interest rates. What if they can’t pay? Best not think about that.

And as always the circular question? Should I be photographing the women or helping the women? And what is helping actually? Lamely handing a donation for water and snacks then sitting at a resort using WIFI to tell their story?

© 2016 Melinda Irvine