To help more street children to help themselves

by Childhope Philippines Foundation, Inc
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To help more street children to help themselves
To help more street children to help themselves
To help more street children to help themselves
To help more street children to help themselves
To help more street children to help themselves
To help more street children to help themselves
To help more street children to help themselves
To help more street children to help themselves
To help more street children to help themselves
Empowerment through skills training
Empowerment through skills training
A fast-food worker’s job can be as difficult as it can get. It requires skills and patience to overcome the day to day challenges that come with the work. Besides the physical stress, workers also go through a lot of emotional dilemma because of discrimination and abuse.
 
Despite the hardships, three beneficiaries of Childhope’s Vocational/Technical (VocTech) Skills Training project still find their jobs as rewarding and fulfilling. More than anything, it has opened up opportunities for them to lead better lives.
 
Marston, Ramil, and Ariel earn a living from being service crew at fast food chains and restaurants in Manila. The three are all in their early 20s. They started out as street children with no direction in life, and just survived daily through begging, selling, and most of the time, luck.
“They were street kids who were dirty, hungry, desperate, neglected, and without proper guidance from adults. To escape from life’s harsh realities, they got into sniffing solvent,” said Christian, facilitator of the Voc Tech project.
 
Even though there were many uncertainties, Childhope saw potentials in the three street kids. “We give a chance for every child,” Christian said.
EMPOWERMENT THROUGH SKILLS TRAINING
 
Childhope’s street educators and social workers reached out to Marston, Ramil, and Ariel through the Street Education Program. They came from different areas in Metro Manila --- Kalaw, Sucat, and Divisoria, respectively.
 
The street educators engaged them in alternative education that involved lessons on basic health and hygiene, values, and child rights and responsibilities. The sessions also involve counselling --- social workers help street children to realize the consequences of being addicted to vices.
 
It was difficult to get the street children’s attention at first, but street educators and social workers are motivated to help the children to find a sense of purpose. Soon, they saw Marston, Ramil, and Ariel’s potentials to do well in skills training.
“The three were not pretty good in academics, but they had a strong set of skills and desire to help their families. We decided to develop their abilities in hotel and restaurant services,” Christian said.
 
Under the VocTech project, street children are taught to live independently and responsibly. They attend sessions on values, skills for life, and financial education. They undergo on-the-job training and practice the value of saving.
HOPE FOR A BETTER LIFE
 
More than financial support, the project aims to empower street children so they can have a positive outlook in life. Step-by-step, the street children are able to support their families and earn income for their basic needs. Slowly, they are able to have goals and are more motivated to achieve their dreams.
Ramil, for instance, used to run away from his home in Laguna. He then lived at a makeshift house along the railroad tracks in Sucat, Metro Manila. Days went by and he struggled to survive through sniffing solvent and being with his peers.
 
But through the street education sessions and training under the VocTech project, he found his way back home. After finishing his training and after some unsuccessful attempts, he was able to land a job at McDonald’s. The struggles honed him and helped build his confidence, and pushed him to work harder. He was even awarded Best Employee in September 2016.
Through his determination, Ramil was able to put up a simple sari-sari store business for his mother. His earnings and savings over time also gave him the opportunity to pay it forward. He is now able to help his nephews and nieces by funding their schooling.
Ramil has been with McDonald’s for six years now, and he is inspired more than ever to help his family and to save for the future.
Ariel, for his part, earns a living from being a service crew member at a hotel in Makati City. Ariel used to live near a railroad track in Binondo, Divisoria but through his earnings, he was able to rent a home for him and his family. He is focused on his work but still dreams of going back to school to finish his studies.
Marston is also a service crew member at Chowking in Sta. Mesa, Manila. From being a solvent addicted boy in Kalaw, Manila, he is now focused on doing his best at what he does. Through his efforts, Marston and his family were able to rent and stay at a house in Kalaw, Manila.
 
Starting out was hard for Marston because he experienced being bullied. He persevered through the challenge and kept an optimistic mindset. Marston dreams of becoming a seaman someday so he can better support his family.
 
Marston, Ramil, and Ariel still have a long way to go, but they take hold of opportunities that come their way and make the most out of these. They are using the skills they learned under the VocTech project to earn income and help themselves and their families. More importantly, they want to pursue lives away from the streets to carve a better future ahead.
 
Empowerment through skills training
Empowerment through skills training
Empowerment through skills training
Empowerment through skills training
Empowerment through skills training
Empowerment through skills training
Empowerment through skills training
Empowerment through skills training

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Street child finishes college through perseverance
Street child finishes college through perseverance

Arlene has not yet lived in a place she can call her own home. She has been used to staying on the streets and open spaces around Metro Manila.

What keeps Arlene going is her positive outlook and determination. Her circumstances did not stop her from actively pursuing a good education.

Now, she makes her family proud as a college graduate with a degree in Human Resource and Operations Management from the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila.

“Kahit sobrang walang wala ka, dapat maghold ka sa dreams na makakatapos. Buksan mo ang sarili mo sa mga opportunities (Even without money, you should hold on to your dreams of finishing school. Open yourself up to opportunities),” Arlene said.

SEARCHING FOR HOME

The 21-year old recalls her early days living with her family at a parking lot near the CCP Complex in Pasay City.  Arlene’s parents did not have stable jobs, and at a young age, she had to help sell goods in a cart to earn for the family. Things got worse when their makeshift home at the parking lot was demolished by police.

“Napunta po ako sa isang center para sa mga bata. Pero tumakas po ako at hinanap ko po yung pamilya ko sa kalye (I was brought to a center for abandoned children. But I managed to escape and find my way back to my family on the streets),” said Arlene.

As the eldest of three siblings, Arlene knew early on that she had to be strong for her family. Her father found a small room for rent along Roxas Boulevard. But they were also asked to leave because her father had arguments with the caretaker. It seems Arlene and her family were not lucky in looking for a place to stay.

But they persevered while on the streets. Arlene’s father sold ‘buko’ (coconuts) in a cart and walked along Roxas Boulevard. The caretaker of the warehouse where the coconuts are stored took pity on Arlene and her family.

“Naawa sa amin yung caretaker kaya pinarenta niya yung likod ng bahay niya sa amin. May natutuluyan na kami (The caretaker allowed us to rent a small place behind his home for a cheap price. Finally, we had a place to stay in),” Arlene said.

LEARNING AND SURVIVING

Even without a permanent home, Arlene was able to learn and go to school. She joined Childhope’s alternative education sessions around Manila. She was drawn to the program because she was fascinated by the street educators and their teachings. Also, the street children are given free food during the sessions.

“Nung una, saling pusa lang ako. Pero bigla na lang lagi na akong nag-attend ng sessions. Yung mga natutunan nagagamit ko sa buhay. Nalaman ko yung karapatan at responsibilidad ko, at natutunan kong pangalagaan ang aking kalusuguan (At first, I was joining the sessions inactively. But I found myself taking the lessons and applying them in everyday life. I learned about my rights and responsibilities as a child, and I learned how to take care of my health,” said Arlene.

Soon, Arlene was leading other street children by becoming a Junior Health Worker. Childhope trained her how to treat wounds through First Aid, and how to help other street children to practice proper hygiene and basic health care. Through Childhope, she was able to develop her potentials.

“Dahil po naging active ako sa mga activities, at sa kagustuhan kong makatapos, awa po ng Diyos at naging beneficiary po ako ng Educational Assistance Program. Sa tulong po ng mga sponsors, nagkaroon po ako ng pagasa na makakatapos ng pagaaral (Through my active participation in the activities, my desire to go to college, and with God’s mercy, I became a beneficiary of Childhope’s Educational Assistance Program. With the help of generous donors, I found hope that I will be able to finish school),” said Arlene.

PERSEVERING THROUGH CHALLENGES

Arlene eventually went to college. With the outpour of opportunities came the non-stop challenges. Sometimes, the family and financial problems were too much.

“Minsan po wala talagang kinita at isang basong kape lang ang pinagsasaluhan namin sa buong araw. Minsan yung natirang kanin ng kapitbahay na binibigay sa amin, yun na yung ginagawa naming sangag sa gabi (Sometimes, when we really had no money, we had to make do with sharing one glass of coffee to last us throughout the day. Sometimes, our good neighbors would give us left over rice and we would use this as fried rice for dinner,” Arlene said.

But Arlene chose not to give up. She used the challenges, and the sacrifices of her parents as motivation to work even harder. Arlene says she couldn’t have done it without a support system.

“Hanggat may gustong tumulong sa iyo, kunin mo at pagbutihin mo ang pagkakataon. Pero huwag mong hintaying bumagsak sa yo ang mga blessings. Kailangan maging aggressive sa pagtupad ng pangarap (As long as there are people willing to help, grab and make the most out of opportunities. But don’t wait for blessings to pour. You have to be aggressive in chasing your dreams),” Arlene said.

It is this drive that keeps Arlene set on achieving her goals to give her family a permanent home, and ensure a better future for them.

Encouraging street children to dream, hope
Encouraging street children to dream, hope
Junior Health Workers assist in basic health care
Junior Health Workers assist in basic health care

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Isko: From street child to street educator
Isko: From street child to street educator

PJ, Isko, and Louie are men of the streets. Their stories speak of different lessons, yet they are all intertwined by a key theme: education opens opportunities for those who work hard for their dreams.

As young boys, life for PJ, Isko, and Louie revolved around survival --- getting by with the little they have. PJ used to help his mom out with their store, but eventually resorted to begging from people so he and his family could have something to eat for the day. Besides begging, Louie and his siblings also took turns scavenging for plastic bottles and selling them to help feed the family. Isko and his family also suffered from poverty. With little to no support, he had no direction with his life and was on the verge of giving up.

But with prayers, hard work, and determination, life took a turn for the better for the three young men. And it started when they realized the importance of learning and pursuing a good education.

STREET EDUCATION

PJ, Isko, and Louie joined Childhope’s street education program for street children. They attended alternative education sessions --- where they learned about reading, writing, children’s rights, good values and spirituality. They enjoyed watching videos that taught them about the basics of proper hygiene, and the importance of family, friendship, and dreams.

But more than literacy and numeracy, the street education program equipped them with life skills to overcome challenges. Through their active participation in the program, PJ, Isko, and Louie slowly developed their talents, built their confidence and self-worth, and carved out a better future for themselves.

 It’s not an easy journey, and there will always be people and circumstances trying to break you and bring you down. But you can always make a choice to use these problems as opportunities to learn and do better.

“By not giving up in the face of adversity, I assure you that you will become stronger. You can only live a life worth living when you finally decide to face all of their fears and take the first step forward,” said PJ.

GIVING BACK  

At present, Pj, Louie, and Isko are all paying it forward in their own simple ways. From a street child, Isko is now a street educator who is on a mission to create more “Iskos.” He said nothing makes him happier than protecting, guiding, and empowering the little street children.

“I want to make a positive impact in the lives of thousands of street children, just like my former Ates (elder sister) and Kuyas (elder brother) from Childhope. I want street kids to know that life does get better if you keep your head up and work hard enough,” said Isko.

Louie is also with Childhope as a Mobile Music School Coordinator. He still goes around the streets of Manila but with a higher purpose --- to share his passion for music with the street children he cares for. He teaches the basics of playing instruments like guitar, keyboard, and drums and also hones the street children’s talents in singing.

“I am happy to share the knowledge and skills I have not only about music but how it helped shape me as a person. It’s overwhelming to see that they are learning,” Louie said.

PJ also worked with Childhope as a street educator after he graduated from college. He went out of his way to teach street kids the best way he can. Now, he continues to embark on his new life at sea and remains hopeful to fulfill his dream to be a machinist to help more people.

‘SHARING KINDNESS’

The street kids’ dreams live on. And with your support, more and more street children can be like Isko, Louie, and PJ --- alreadly living stories of success, hope, and inspiration.

We encourage you to be part of our street education program, by giving back in the best way you can. There are a lot of opportunities to share the kindness --- you can donate and help us fund and sustain our programs; you can help us with in-kind donations; and you can volunteer to share your time, talents, and skills to hone the street children.

By sharing the kindness, you can be part of a meaningful journey of transforming the lives of street children. Why wait? The time is now.

Louie: Spreading hope through music
Louie: Spreading hope through music
Pj: Hard work and dreams to succeed
Pj: Hard work and dreams to succeed

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Childhope reaches out to street kids in Manila
Childhope reaches out to street kids in Manila

Besides running a hotel of his own, Dick has one other dream. He hopes he can finally convince his 65-year old father to leave the streets and stay at a place they can call home.

“Mahirap gawin, matigas kasi ulo ni Papa. Ayaw niya umalis sa Luneta kasi nakasanayan na niya (It’s difficult because Papa is hardheaded. He does not want to leave Luneta because he is used to staying there),” said the 24-year old Dick.

“Mas gusto niya tumira sa Luneta, kahit na walang permanenteng tulugan doon (He prefers to keep Luneta as his home, even without a permanent place to sleep on.),” he added. Dick is currently renting and staying with a relative in Manila.

Dick said his father works hard as a carpenter to provide for the two of them. When the old man could not take up the cudgels, he took his son to an orphanage. Dick stayed at the Asilo de san Vicente de Paul for most of his childhood. He left when he was already in fifth grade.

Dick and his father managed to survive the streets through wit and grit, one day at a time. His father was always out during the day, looking for work.

“He got clients who needed someone to fix their roof or any part of their house. Luckily, there was always construction work,” said Dick.

Dick, for his part, tried his best to stay in school while managing the challenges of living on the streets. He was very independent and took care of his own ---- ironing and washing his clothes, finding food to eat, and looking for a place to study.

“Kailangan makipagkaibigan ako sa mga caretaker ng Luneta para makapagaral ako doon sa tinatawag namin dati na kweba, ngayon Senior Citizens Garden at Luneta park (I learned how to befriend the caretakers of Luneta so I can study at the place we called ‘cave.’ Now, it has been turned into a Senior Citizens Garden,” said Dick.

“Bawal kasi yun so tatakbo na lang kami pag may gwardya na. Pag umuulan, panangga mo kariton (That was prohibited so we had to run when the guards caught us. During stormy weather, we used cardboards to protect ourselves from the rain),” Dick said.

 

THE STREETS AS HIS TEACHER

Despite the hardships, Dick has learned to love the streets of Manila. It is also here where he got the inspiration and drive to pursue and finish his studies.

“I saw Kuya Jessie teaching street children in Luneta. I was very curious. My life turned for the better since then,” said Dick.

More than the basics of reading and writing, Dick had a firm grasp of his rights, responsibilities, and values ---- through Childhope Philippines’ street education program.

“Childhope’s street educators and social workers assist children through an alternative learning system ---- giving them pointers on how to protect themselves from the different kinds of abuse,” said Dr. Harvey, Executive Director of Childhope.

 “The main goal is to guide and motivate the children to pursue dreams and a life outside the streets,” Harvey added.

 “Natuto ako makisalamuha sa ibang tao, natuto akong humarap sa kanila. In my simple ways, natuto akong maging lider (I learned how to deal with different kinds of people, and handle myself around them. In my simple ways, I learned how to be a leader),” Dick said.

By consistently participating in Childhope’s programs, Dick became an active junior advocate and junior health worker. He was very passionate about sharing his experiences to other street children like him.

“Bilang junior health worker, natuto akong manggamot ng sugat ng mga bata. Bilang junior rights advocate naman, namulat ko sila sa kanilang mga karapatan at responsibilidad (As a junior health worker, I learned how to treat wounds of children. As a junior rights advocate, I was able to educate the children on their rights and responsibilities,” Dick said.

Dick was consistent and persistent in attending the sessions that slowly built his self-confidence. He eventually found himself in college, as a beneficiary of Childhope’s educational assistance program. It was a rough journey, though, juggling different jobs while trying to maintain high grades. At one point, he thought he could not make it.

“Pero lagi akong kinumbinsi ni Nanay Gerney na bumalik at tapusin ang pagaaral ko,” said Dick of his social worker Gerney whom he fondly calls “nanay.”

“Nung nasa ospital ako at kailangang operahan, di alam ng tatay ko. Si Nanay Gerney ang kasama ko. Kung wala ang Childhope, pilay ako. Di ako gagraduate (My father did not know that I was hospitalized and had to undergo surgery. It was Nanay Gerney who was with me. Without Childhope, I would be crippled. I would not be able to graduate,” said Dick. At one point, Dick had to undergo surgery because of the disease hernia. He relied on help from his Childhope family.

 

DREAMS, FAMILY

Dick plans to take on a number of jobs and earn money, so he can help his father and his family. He has not seen his mother and siblings for a long time since they were separated when he was young, but he hopes to be reunited with them.

Dick wants to improve his skills as a graduate of a bachelor’s degree in human resource management (HRM). He says he could not believe that he was able to finish, considering his worries on finances and expenses.

“Nagawan ng paraan ng Childhope. Ngayon, gusto kong ibalik ang tulong sa pamamagitan ng pagtrabaho ng mabuti at pagangat. Gusto ko magsimula sa baba pataas. Balang araw, gusto ko maging manager (Childhope found a way to help me finish my studies. Now, I want to give back by working well and succeeding. I want to work my way up --- I want to be a manager someday,” said Dick.

Dick says a most valuable lesson he learned in his struggles is to always give a helping hand in any way, despite the hardships.

“Kahit mahirap ka tumulong ka pa rin kahit papaano kasi babalik sa iyo yun, mas magiging blessed ka (Even when you are poor, help others in the best way you can. It will come back to you and you will blessed),” he said.

Dick says he believes that the best way to get through things is to have a mindset of not giving up even when it’s too hard and hopeless. He says it’s important to hold on to your faith because God will always make a way.

Street kids need opportunities to learn, excel
Street kids need opportunities to learn, excel

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Street educator teaches music to street kids
Street educator teaches music to street kids

Louie is a man of the streets, and Luneta has been his playground.

He spent his childhood scavenging for plastic bottles and selling them to help feed his family.  He would also beg for money so his family could survive.

Now, Louie still goes around the streets of Manila but with a higher purpose --- to share his passion for music with the street children he cares for.

ROCK-ED

Louie used to join Childhope Asia Philippines’ Street Education program for street children. He attended alternative education sessions --- where he learned about reading, writing, children’s rights, good values and spirituality. He enjoyed watching videos that taught him about important life lessons.

But it is in music where he truly found himself.

“I was very excited to hold a guitar. I had always wanted to be in a band and play,” Louie said.

So he tagged along when his friends invited him to join a RockEd program in 2009. It is a project created to teach music to the Childhope street kids by the employee volunteers from Deutsche Bank Group’s Deutsche Knowledge Services (DKS).

 “The lessons covered guitar, bass, piano, drums, dance, and vocals. We would go to the DKS office every Saturday to learn how to play,” Louie said.

DKS says its Rock-Ed is based on the belief that music plays an essential role in empowering children and helps them discover their own music talents as well.

Little did Louie know that he would develop a passion for music, and a yearning to share it with other children like him.

MORE THAN MERE MUSIC

Through Rock-Ed, Louie and his three friends formed a band.  But what he cherished was the bond they shared. They called themselves ‘Abstract.’

“Di ko alam na magiging solid kaming apat. Abstract yung tawag sa amin kasi magulo, kanya kanyang interpretasyon, pero may nabuong harmony (I did not think we would be that close. We called the band ‘Abstract’ because we were very different people, to each his own interpretation, but there was harmony”), Louie said.

Louie was in fourth year high school and his bandmates were also studying. There were difficulties in juggling school work with practice and personal problems, but they pursued their dream. ‘Abstract’ was able to release an extended play (EP) with four songs representing the voice of street children’s hopes and dreams.

PASSING IT FORWARD

Six years later, Louie still finds himself fascinated with the power of music. Only this time, he shares this with street children who have no idea how to play tunes. Every week, he goes around Manila to introduce the wonders of music to the street kids.

“Masaya akong ibinabahagi yung nalalaman ko, hindi lang sa music kundi paano din ako na-mold as a person. Overwhelming na makita silang natututo. (I am happy to share the knowledge and skills I have not only about music but how it helped shape me as a person. It’s overwhelming to see that they are learning,” Louie said.

Louie said the street kids are slowly building their confidence through practice and determination. He said it’s hard to get their attention at times, but they are learning the values of respect, discipline, and having a positive attitude. Louie said music also helps in protecting the kids from vices or addiction as it diverts their attention to more important things.

As a full-time teacher for Childhope Asia’s mobile music school, Louie said he has a lot of dreams for the street children he serves. He said had he decided to give up on his dream to pursue music, he would still be the same kid lost on the streets.

“Kailangan matutuo kang maikasabay sa takbo ng mundo, at sa genres ng buhay. Wag kang susuko para maabot ang pangarap (You need to learn how to go with the flow, with the genres of life. You should not give up in achieving your dreams),” Louie said.

“Mabigat naman na mawala ka sa mundo ng walang nakikinabang sa iyo. (It’s hard for me to bear leaving this world without making a difference. In my simple ways, I hope to encourage street kids to set goals, to attain a better life,” Louie added.

Street children hone their skills in music
Street children hone their skills in music

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Organization Information

Childhope Philippines Foundation, Inc

Location: Manila, N/A - Philippines
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @ChildhopePH
Project Leader:
Mylene Lagman
Resource Mobilization and Communications Manager
Manila, Philippines
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