The house that sits on a river

BY ROXANNE DELA CRUZ | Field and Emergency Communications Specialist

 

Living in a house that sits on a river is common in the rural areas of the Philippines. Yet having to live there is always challenging and dangerous.

“I’ve lived here for over 40 years, I’ve lived here since I was born, and nothing much has changed with having to cross these wooden bridges,” shared Fatima, wife to a fisherman and a mother to five children.

 

 Fatima stands strong as a mother of five, together with her husband who is a fisherman, to raise their children and to provide their daily needs. 

 

Passing through the bridges that connects the houses to riding the small boats to get to the town are part of their day-to-day life. 

“It’s really a challenge for us to pass and walk on these wooden bridges every day, especially if we’re bringing a lot of stuff,” said Fatima. The bridges they cross daily are already broken, and the larger their community gets, the more there are people who walk on these.

 

 People ride boats to get across their village and into the city proper. 

 

“And the children here have no place to run around and play. And this river is not a safe place for them to swim in either, especially when it’s raining or even if it’s just high tide,” she added. Walking in these narrow and steep wooden bridges may have been normal for them, but it was never safe. Several children have fallen off of the bridge while crossing, and their parents wouldn’t notice right away. Not all these children know how to swim, and they all get bruised and wounded every time.

 Fatima, who has lived in the river for over 40 years, helps her children with their homework. 

 

It’s another challenge for them when it rains because usually it floods. They’d have to pack up their things and store it in higher portions of their house. When it rains too, the children would be more eager to play and swim in the river, and it would be more dangerous for them and chances of drowning is higher because of the rising water.

Fatima’s daughter does her homework by the window. Although they grew up living in a house on the river, their safety is still at risk.

 

“We’d have to pack our things, at the same time watch over the rising river, and watch over the children as well,” said Fatima. “We’d have to remind our neighbors too to watch over their children, especially those who love to jump in water when the rain is pouring,” she added.

“This has been my life ever since, it has been very hard, but as long as we can endure, we will,” Fatima shared with tears in her eyes.