Students from the alternative learning system conducted by the center for social concern and action in partnership with the department of education provided relief items to street families in district 5, manila. cosca allocated several family relief packs to be distributed to selected street families along paraiso ng maynila and roxas boulevard. The street families were also affected by the recent floodings brought about by the southwest monsoons (habagat). The relief items that were distributed included the following: rice, canned goods, clothing, beddings and potable water. This effort is part of a social formation package for the als students designed by the project community organizer. Aside from the educational module prescribed by the department of education, cosca has integrated several activities designed to encourage them to help other people in need. A feature that further distinguished a lasallian from the rest of the students. this activity was preceeded by an environmental activity also attended by the als students which was held last aug 2012 at nuvali, santa rosa, laguna. Als is short for the alternative learning system, an educational program by the department of education designed to provide academic input to basic education students who are out of school. conceptualized to be more liberal than the regular public school curriculum, the als encourages self study. An equivalency test is held every oct. upon passing, the students are eligible to enrol in the next grade/year level. Cosca has been an als center since 2010.
The Initiative for the Street Families of Manila is formally on its 2nd year of operation. It has been able to provide basic services to a sizable number of street dwellers from district 5, Manila. It was also during this period that the project has learned more insights on how to best provide for the development of the said sector and in effect, reduce their numbers while at the same time increasing their productivity and most of all, remove them from the streets.
For this year 2012, the Initiative for the Street Families of Manila will be solely implemented by the Center for Social Concern and Action (COSCA) in partnership with external institutions. One of the strategies for a quicker reintegration process for the street dwellers is to introduce to them a supplemental source of livelihood by recycling plastic bags and transforming these into high end items. Most of our partner street families are familar with this since most are into scavenging whatever they can find on the streets and in garbage bins for items they can sell to junkshops. One notable difference is that they can now take in plastic bags, which are normally not being bought from the street dwellers. The project will now, because of a partnership with the Invisible Sisters, will be creating fashion and other high end items from these plastic bags to be sold to the general public. The ultimate aim of this approach is to equip the adult street dwellers with skills on how to crochet using the strips of recycled plastic bags instead of yarn.
To expedite the community reintegration process for the street families, they will be partnered with the members from the basic ecclesial community (BEC) of the Our Lady of the Assumption Parish. It is hoped that from the socialization process that will occur, a sense of security and belongingness will come upon the street dwellers and in effect, allow them to reintegrate within established barangays.
A Medical and Dental Mission was held last March 17, 2012 at the The Bagong Tuluyan: Center for Street Families. At least 25 individual street families were able to access free medical services and medicines. Free dental consultation was also provided by the Philippine Dental Association – Manila Chapter.
From the period April to May 2012, the project has also provided the partner street families with the following capacity building activities: session on children and women's rights and skills on pedicure/manicure and hair cutting. One project beneficiary is currently undergoing counselling with a volunteer psychiatrist.
The vegetable garden is still on going and effectively providing viands for the partner street families during their lean periods. Vegetables like eggplant and alukbati, a local vine are often being harvested and cooked to augment their meals.
The project is now preparing the repatriation of 2 street families from Manila to Leyte, a province in the Visasyas area. Our social worker has made all the necessary communication with the local Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) office in Leyte to ensure proper turnover of project partners. Part of the process is to ensure that the street families will be received by their own relatives and resettled at their communities.
The project is also preparing for the expansion of the Alternative Learning System to include out of school youth and adult learners from the nearby brgys of 718 and 720 in Manila. In anticipation of the influx of learners, the center will be renovating the main room to accomodate more tables, chairs and blackboards. The project will also partner with the Knowledge Channel, an NGO who are into education and provision of technology to deliver educational modules.
The initiative on the street families project is now on its 7th month of operations. It was able to provide relevant services to approximately 20 families based in district 5 in manila. These include: medical services by the resident nurse and those referred to nearby medical institutions for surgeries and other procedures. 20 out of school children are presently enrolled with the alternative learning system module by the department of education facilitators and 5 of whom took an equivalency test last nov. Results will be released by feb of next year to determine if they are eligible to be promoted to the next grade/year level.
The urban vegetable garden is now operational with the street families benefiting from free vegetables harvested and used as ingredients in their viands during lean days.
The project is now concentrating on how to make the street families more productive by identifying possible livelihood option for them.
The center is currently taking on six to eleven street families on a regular basis. These are composed of approximately thirty individuals, all from district five in Manila. Most of them are undergoing individual profiling by the project community organizer, gathering medical, educational and other relevant information which are to be used to craft a more appropriate case intervention for each.
The project is also tapped the services of the Alternative Learning System of the Department of Education to provide educational support to the street families. DepEd is regularly sending six ALS facilitators/teachers to the center. They are using curriculum and modules designed for non conventional primary and secondary learning. By October, the facilitators/teachers will be administering an equivalency examination to the partner street families to determine if they are eligible to be graduated to the next academic level. The center, in an effort to maximize the presence of the ALS facilitators/teachers also took on out of school youths residing in nearby communities.
The project is also referring medical cases of individual street families to selected medical partners in Manila and Quezon City. This is stop gap measure currently being implemented by the center due to limited resources.
The project is also exploring the possibility of starting an urban vegetable garden within the center compound. This has the following major objectives: 1) to stimulate collective action among the street families and thereby practice democratic decision making process and taking on of individual responsibilities; and 2) to have a regular supply of viand for their needs.
Aside from the ALS interventions, the street families are also undergoing regular values clarification sessions and catechism with the social workers from the St. Scholastica’s Priory and basic health education from the resident nurse/project community organizer from the Center for Social Concern and Action (COSCA) of De La Salle University Manila.
The project will also conduct a joint planning session with the project proponents this September to discuss a more strategic intervention for the street families and children as well as to firm up internal policies, mechanisms and procedures.
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Director, Center for Social Concern and Action