The evolution of the rags to riches started five years ago with a vision held by a Jesuit seminarian who was assigned to a parish at the Payatas dumpsite, northeast of Manila; about 60,000 people live around the dump’s fringe. Father Xavier Alpasa said he saw exploitation flourishing as he ministered in this deeply impoverished community.
Women were buying dumpsite scraps that scavengers picked and sewing them into rugs to be sold commercially.
“Middlemen were coming in and buying the rugs at 9 pesos and selling them to department stores for 35 pesos,” Father Alpasa said. “Then I was asking, ‘Where did all the profit go? Why is it all going to the middlemen? How come the women would only get 1 peso as a profit?'”