Street children left behind by PH economic growth
MANILA, Philippines - With the Philippine economy doing better than expected, some international donors are starting to pull out.
They think a better economy means more opportunities for the poor, but one NGO says, the benefits have not yet reached those who need them most.
Gen Cruz reports.
Everyday for 25 years, street children gather here in Luneta Park.
Jude Natividad has been going to the Mobile classrooms for the last 10 years. He is now 17.
JUDE NATIVIDAD, CHILDHOPE ASIA SCHOLAR: Nung kinausap ako ng social worker, nahihiya ako. Ininvite niya ako papunta doon sa may kasama nung mga bata, hanggang sa marami akong nakilalang mga bata. Tapos, ayon, then the rest araw-araw na akong umaattend. Sinasali nila ako sa mga program nila. Hanggang sa na-improve yung skills ko. Halimbawa natin yung pagsalita sa harap ng mga tao. Dati ayaw na ayaw ko yun e. (When the social worker approached me, I was shy. They invited me to go to where the children were, until I got to know the other kids. Then there, I just attended everyday. They would let me join their programs until my skills improved. For example public speaking, I could never do that before.)
Jude got a scholarship to finish high school in Japan, under the International School of Asia Karuizawa. Sadly, he had to decline the offer. Childhope Asia lacked the funding to process his papers after international donors pulled out.
JUDE NATIVIDAD, CHILDHOPE ASIA SCHOLAR: Gusto kong i-grab ito e, gustong gusto ko kaso hindi lang sa ako yung isa sa mga batang nabigyan ng pagkakataong makapunta sa ibang bansa dahil sa scholarship kaso yung pagkakataon na iyon, naputol e kasi nga dahil hindi nga kaya ng Child Hope na tustusan yung mga dapat na ibigay sa akin. Tapos, kulang talaga sa budget. Napanghinaan ako ng loob. (I wanted to grab it. I really wanted it because I get to study abroad, but the opportunity is gone now. Child hope could not shoulder the expenses for the things I needed. We didn’t have the budget. I felt really disappointed.)
Childhope Asia founder, 83-year old Teresita Silva, dedicated her life helping street children like Jude. Silva says international donors scaled back financial support because the Philippine economy is doing well. The assumption is that a booming economy will create more opportunities for the poor. She says that's not yet true for the Philippines.
TERESITA SILVA, CHILDHOPE ASIA FOUNDER: The benefits of economic growth in the Philippines is not yet reaching the poorest of the poor. Street children are very much part of the poorest of the poor. They live on the streets, many of them are abandoned, some of them have families but they are dysfunctional families or urban poor.
Everyday, Childhope Asia teaches lessons on sanitation, reproductive health, and their rights as a child.
The organization provides temporary spaces where street children can feel safe and learn without fear of discrimination.
But now the group is forced to scale down.
CHIPS GUEVARRA, CHILDHOPE ASIA BOARD MEMBER: As you know we have a street education program as you can see here at the back, but... We used to take care of 1,200 street kids. But because we’ve had to reduce our street educators, we have to pay them salary for them to be sustainable. We had to reduce it down so now we’re down to about 600, down to half that number.
Jude dreams of finishing college and helping Child Hope Asia.
JUDE NATIVIDAD, CHILDHOPE ASIA SCHOLAR: Almost ten years na po ako sa Child Hope. Gustong gusto ko po tumulong sa Child Hope. Bilang pagtanaw ng utang na loob sa Child Hope, kasi hinding hindi ko po makakalimutan ang Child Hope. (I’ve been in Childhope for almost ten years. I really want to help Childhope. I want to give back after what they’ve given me, I will never forget Childhope.)
Childhope Asia is looking for ways to raise awareness for educating street children. But with limited resources, the NGO is struggling to stay afloat. For children like Jude, the future depends on how much longer Childhope Asia can remain financially viable.
Gen Cruz, Rappler, Manila – Rappler.com