Home to Lumago Designs is Scandinavian Village, a housing project that was created in 1992 with donated land from the City Government and financial funds from Scandinavian Children’s Mission. The project is a community of 98 houses on the outskirts of Dumaguete City adjacent to the City Dump, and was created for the poorest of the poor. Today, the housing project flourishes with a communal daycare program and a clinic with a multi-purpose hall. Most of the community survives on scavenging through the dump to find recyclable materials that they are able to resell. The average income for a family of 5 living here is about $40.00 per month.
Since 1992 many houses have been built up around it due to urbanization and the initial families growing. This community is called “the yellow tops” which refers to the yellow flowers that naturally flourish everywhere. Today, many of the yellow top houses do not have running water or electricity. They rely on the polluted river that runs close by for bathing needs and wood stoves for meals. There is no doubt that this community struggles with hardships day in and out but the spirit of life, laughter and perseverance can be found around every corner.
If you ever happen to be Dumaguete City and want a taste of true Filipino life send us an email we would love to meet you.
Lumago Ladies’ Co-OP
The Lumago Ladies Co-operative launched alongside Lumago Designs and hold shares in the social enterprise. They are the designers and crafters of all Lumago Designs products. Currently there are 16 members and all have gone through trainings and participate in weekly meetings.
Living off a Dumpsite
Being eco friendly is not a trend for the Scandinavian community. Recycling is their livelihood and reducing and re-using is a way of life. Truckloads of trash are brought in everyday and people sift through it to find recyclable materials that can be turned into profit. Whatever they find they are allowed to keep and sell on. For many members of this community this is their main source of income that provides them with an average monthly income of Php 2,000 ($48.00). Here are some of the materials that they find, wash and organize for resale.
We search for any clear plastics which can be washed in our near by river, dried and organized for resale. Often large companies purchase this plastic to use in their products. We are paid Php 3.00/ kilo ($0.07).
We collect old magazines, newspapers, school work… anything that is paper and organize to resell for Php 0.50- 3.00/ kilo ($0.01- $0.07/kilo).
Cans is big business here in our dumpsite as soda is very popular in the Philippines. There are several large can collection centers. The person who sells the cans on to the larger recycling center receives Php 30/ kilo ($0.73)
Flour Sacks/ rice sacks:
We can wash and resell sacks to the local market for various uses. For example, Lumago Designs uses the flour sacks to make recyclable bags for their wholesale customers. A flour sack that has been found and washed is Php 6.00 (about $0.14).
Scandinavian’s way of living is simple but filled with laughter and love. They take great pride in their personal space and if you visit you will see a tidy walkway with well-tended gardens.
Some of the houses have running water but many still depend on the nearby river to do laundry and bathe. Most houses do have electricity but it is still used conservatively as it can be a considerable cost at the end of the month.
Many of the Yellow Top houses are constructed out of recycled materials found at the dump and creative solutions are found throughout the community. For example, here is a group of children playing with a jumprope made out of old pieces of fabric.
Most houses have compacted dirt floors, sleep at least 4 people in one room but have a TV or radio. The Lumago Ladies often work from home so they can tend to their chores and children as seen in this picture.
When mealtime comes almost all families use “dirty kitchens” or an outside flat surface where an open fire can be made.