Life Under the Bridge

François Phliponeau, France

Very often, people who live in poverty are stigmatized, feeling excluded from society. This week, the French president declared that poverty is “a humiliation for the Republic.” But feelings of exclusion and humiliation, are not inevitable.

These photos show the life of Mr. Castro in Manila, at home and at work. “At home” means under a bridge where he found shelter with his wife and their three daughters. It is such a cramped place that they cannot stand upright.


Mr. Castro and his family at home under a bridge, in Manila

His “work place” is just above his head since it’s on the bridge that he sells newspapers, cold drinks, cookies, paper hankies, etc.

My friend from under the bridge

My friend from under the bridge

It is on this same bridge that he meets the usual commuters (riding jeepneys) and those passengers in the cars which stop at the red light, 200m away. With them he does not feel excluded, neither humiliated nor poor – he has a business, he is even a friend whom they greet, or with whom they have a chat.

Selling bottles manila

Mr. Castro, the street vendor

Dignity, recognition, respect for  working people, this is what all human beings expect. And, for 27 years now, this has been our advocacy on the October 17, World Day for Overcoming Poverty. On this bridge Mr. Castro earns more than money, he earns his life.

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