Sidney Snoeck (Project Pearls)

Sidney Snoeck is a Belgian freelance photographer based in Manila, Philippines. He graduated as an engineer and worked in the printing and publishing business for more than twenty years. He switched to photography in 2002 to follow his passion for travel and photography. Sidney specializes in social documentary photography. Sidney also serves in Project PEARLS Board and the official photographer of the organization. Project PEARLS is a non-profit organization helping the poorest of the poor children in the Philippines have a better life through PEARLS: Peace, Education, Aspiration, Respect, Love and Smiles.


Project PEARLS was founded by Melissa Villa and  daughter in 2008. They initially started the organization to help Melissa’s deaf and mute childhood friend living in the slums, a single mom with two daughters.  They sent her children to school.

In 2010, Melissa was introduced to the children of Ulingan at Tondo, by photojournalist Sidney Snoeck. He shared photos and stories of the children via Facebook. Pedro Gerardo Silo, another photographer also joined and helped  established the roots in Ulingan. In 2011, Project PEARLS was established as a non-profit organization in the U.S. and in the Philippines. Its mission is to help the poorest of the poor, and to help children have a better life with PEARLS—peace, education, aspiration, respect, love, and smiles.

For over four years, the focus of Project PEARLS’ outreach efforts was in Ulingan, a slum and garbage dumpsite community where over 400 families contend all day with the heat, fumes, dust, stench, flies, mosquitoes and vermin. Hundreds of families from Ulingan were subsequently relocated by the government in Bulacan and Ulingan has been closed. Project PEARLS continues its Scholarship Program and other outreach programs to these children in this relocation village. Another community that Project PEARLS serves is called Helping Land located in Tondo, Manila. Helping Land is home to hundreds of families living in extreme poverty and the community sits on an active dumpsite where production of “pagpag” (leftover food scavenged from garbage and processed, cooked and sold to other poor people) is the main source of livelihood.

Project PEARLS, under the leadership of Melissa’s brother, Juan Villa has a weekly Feeding Program, monthly Birthday Program, yearly Scholarship Program and quarterly Medical and Dental Missions.

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