Fishing, farming, and feeding families

Last Updated on June 8, 2023 by Ellen

Free fish, rice, and eggs. Feeding Filipino families has become another Earth Vagabonds focus while our world is all F’d up.

Fishing forever

The photo above; a fish pen we have sponsored. It’s actually been in use for months already — catching daily food for a handful of local families. I recently visited via kayak for a ‘check-up’.

The pen is really a trap of sorts. A series of netted barricades and enclosures which naturally capture sea creatures so they can be easily collected for consumption with handheld nets.

The scale of the structure is impressive; covering a couple hundred feet; bigger than it looks from land. It requires some maintenance/cleaning. But it functions ‘automatically’ – morning, noon, and night.

By my count, close to 300 medium-size tree trunks are sunk into the seabed, reinforced against the tides and currents, then hung with nets which funnel passing fish through narrow passages into the holding pen where they stay – as dinner!

Of course, like all fishing, the catch is variable. The tides. The temperatures. The wind. The moon. Some mornings there’s a whole school to share – even sell. Other days, next to nothing. Very often squid are ensnared. Sometimes eels.

I’ve sampled the variety (part of the pictures below) – delicious! And all a much needed source of protein as family foodstocks and finances falter.

Barring a typhoon, the contraption could last many more months. Eventually a strong seasonal storm will dislodge and destroy it.

Community quarantine

We remain under ‘enhanced community quarantine’ here in Malay, Aklan, Panay, Philippines. It’s where we’ve paused our early retired, global wandering during the coronavirus crisis — which continues in full force in Southeast Asia.

Over the past 17 months we’ve watched and waited and wondered when it might end – or improve. As of now, just 10 percent of the Philippine population is vaccinated, the Delta COVID variant lurks, the local economy – once based on tourism – is in ruins.

At the present time, personal movement is restricted, travel passes required, masks mandated, group gatherings and alcohol sales banned, curfews in effect.

As some parts of the world ‘normalize’, we could move on. We have been vaccinated. But virus uncertainties remain everywhere and thus we’ve extended our Philippine visas again.

We have friends and neighbors here in need. And we’re happy to help. We continue to assist the nearby indigenous Ati tribe with various community projects (electricity, running water, henhouse, footbridge). But we’re ramping up other efforts as well.

Nice rice

Over the last two months, we’ve started giving away sacks of rice. 55 pound bags cost less than $20 each and can feed a family for weeks. Personally, I find it really rewarding to make such a big difference for such a small sum.

Even more satisfying is seeing the rice recipients divvying up the donation amongst the multiple generations of hungry relatives who often live in close proximity.

Best – as seen in the collage above – is knowing that kids are involved in the process; sharing and caring with their extended families.

Ati eggs & farming

Ironically, the impoverished indigenous Ati people might currently be faring better than most.

Sadly, the Ati are well used to hardship and deprivation. And while our efforts have improved their lives, the Ati too remain out of work and hungry.

Thankfully, the Ati hen house we financed one year ago still produces 90 to 100 fresh eggs per day. And the tribe does get some food sustenance and small income from selling eggs. But the community lockdowns and income shortfalls have hurt egg sales.

Enter the Earth Vagabonds. We’ve purchased and given away dozens of trays of eggs in recent months. As with the rice, it’s something we can do for relatively little money that benefits many in a time of extraordinary need.

Finally, a preview of my next blog report: with our backing, the Ati are now growing vegetable crops. In the photos above you can see the seeds and farm fields and plants already sprouted that will help sustain them however long the local COVID nightmare endures. More Ati garden/farm details coming this week.

In closing, continuing thanks to our overseas contributors who help make our charitable efforts possible. We’re proud to tell the people we assist that kind people in the West care enough to send money.

As always, be thankful and generous (like our supporters), happy trails & more beer.
Life is NOW!

Thanks for reading, “Fishing, farming, and feeding families.”

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