A New Course for the Bajau

Photos by Garrett King @shortstache and Jon Taylor Sweet @jontaylorsweet


A group of photographers and videographers traveled to the Philippines with OneChild to see how Child Champions are helping children in poverty there. Here are some of the powerful images and insights they gathered from the trip.

Garrett King | @shortstache

Hear from photographer Garett King about how his time with the Bajau has shaped his future.

Jon Taylor Sweet | @jontaylorsweet

Hear from photographer Jon Taylor Sweet about what it was like to meet and photograph the Bajau.


The Bajau, also known as Sea Gypsies, are a seafaring people group from Southeast Asia who have lived and worked on the water for centuries. But dwindling fish populations have forced many to settle on land. They don’t have citizenship in the countries where they have settled, face discrimination, and have high mortality rates.

The Bajau in the Philippines have been there for more than 30 years, but their quality of life and opportunities have not improved much over the years. Recently, OneChild partnered with Child Champions in Davao City, Philippines, to open a Hope Center for Bajau children living in poverty to provide them with more education, healthcare, and help for their families.


See what life is like for the Bajau.


Dying From Preventable Illnesses

Bajau children don’t have adequate sanitation or access to healthcare. Many young children living in poverty have died from preventable illnesses like diarrhea and pneumonia because they are malnourished and don’t have the strength to fight off sicknesses.


The Struggle to Work

Since fish populations are dwindling, most Bajaus work as day laborers if they can find someone who will hire them, or they beg to survive. Some Bajau have started selling second-hand clothing and shoes, which they clean and hang up before selling. Most Bajau in this community make around $50 per month, which is not even enough for a family to buy food each day.


Keeping Kids in School

Bajau children traditionally drop out of school to marry. Girls marry when they are 12 years old, and boys marry when they are 15. The literacy rate among the Bajau is less than 1 percent. OneChild’s new Hope Center here will help children like this girl stay in school and learn to read and write, which will open more opportunities for her and begin to bring a hopeful future to her people.

Read about how Justin, the sponsored Bajau boy with the camera, has been cared for and encouraged to nurture his dream to become a photographer.

Health, Life, Dignity

Charlyn Gambe, a social worker, university professor, and pastor, has been ministering to the Bajau in this community for years. She is thrilled to have OneChild’s help, which will help her church have more resources for the Bajau. She says, “The Lord has really planted in our hearts and has given us a dream to see a Bajau community with decent houses, with enough food to eat, with people embracing the dignity that God has given to them. With people who are not beggars. Not receivers. But people who can contribute to the other members of society.”


Learn more about the Bajau from Charlyn.

Hear from Toyditz Cosico, regional program support manager in Asia, about OneChild’s vision for ministering to kids in the Philippines.