By Ronnie Mosley, Humanitarian Photographer
There is no preparation or reading, no stories that can prepare you for what you see here with the Badjao Sea Tribe.
The Badjao people have been occupying areas here in the Southeast Asia since 500AD, yet they are the most discriminated against, least protected of any people group here. They live in intricate networks of little shanties made from boards and rotting lumber with tin roofs, propped above the water on stilts and connected by a intricate maze of tattered boards. Walking is dangerous as many of the boards are rotting and have broken through. I made sure that each step I took involved my foot encompassing at least two boards since a single board could brake through easily, resulting in falling into a stench of trash filled water. Only last week a precious little 5 year old girl, Pina got up during the night, presumably to make her way to the bathroom and lost her footing and fell. The father pulled her lifeless body from the water the next morning. Life here is hard, unfair and very difficult here, yet there is an interesting beauty on there faces that tells a story that goes far beyond poverty.
Traveling with Badjao Bridge today, our team dentist, Suzanne, along with other team member Coleen. We partnered with a Badjao church, the Sama Bajao Christian Fellowship and Pastor Bogel to perform much needed dentistry to many Badjao children. We were able to provide cleanings and molar sealants to several children before Suzanne's dental machine broke down. While it was disappointing that we could not help more children, we certainly made a good connection with this particular tribe before we hopped on a boat to travel to another tribe just 80 miles to the south.