Virlanie Foundation serves children (0 to 14 years old) and youth (15 to 25) at-risk, and their families
Children in street situations are defined as:
- children who depend on the streets to live and/or work, whether alone, with peers or with family
- a wider population of children who have formed strong connections with public spaces and for whom the street plays a vital role in their everyday lives and identities. This wider population includes children who periodically, but not always, live and/or work on the streets and children who do not live or work on the streets, but who regularly accompany their peers, siblings or family in the streets.
About 4.5 million people are estimated to be homeless or living in informal settlements in the Philippines (Philippine Statistics Authority, 2015).
About 3 million of them are in Metro Manila and are mostly migrants from the provinces who come in search of better opportunities. Others have been forced out of their homes by industrial projects: people are losing lands and homes as a result of expansion of highways and industries in rural areas.
Despite rapid economic growth in recent years (World Bank, 2016), the Philippines is facing poverty and persisting inequalities which disproportionately impact the children: in 2015, 31.4% of children were living below the poverty line (Philippine Statistics Authority, 2015), and children in street situations comprise about 3% of the 0-17-year-old population in the Philippines. Metro Manila and the National Capital Region (NCR) have an estimated 30,000 children on the streets, while nationwide, some 250,000 children are believed to be roaming around public places of major urban centers, and these numbers are growing(Protecting Filipino Children From Abuse, Exploitation and Violence, A Comprehensive Program On Child Protection, 2012-2016, Building a Protective and Caring Environment for Children, Comité spécial pour la protection des enfants, Département de la Justice, 2012 ).
Either coming from large families or left without one, the children and youth who live and work on the streets constitute children and youth population left behind by society. They are more likely to drop out early from school and to be engaged in high risk behaviors. In the poorest communities, multiple problems need to be addressed: child labor, poor education, high incidence of malnutrition, child neglect, child abuse, exploitation and child trafficking. Because they are vulnerable to various forms of abuse, violence and exploitation, they are considered at risk and therefore in need of special protection.
As the needs of most of the children, youth and families in street situations go unaddressed, it is up to non-government organizations (NGOs) to contribute in providing them with appropriate and quality support. Truly improving the lives of children in street situations requires to also focus on the provision of comprehensive services: proper care, development, education and opportunities to their families to generate incomes. Only a holistic approach and a full range of such specialized services can sustainably help the most disadvantaged children and families overcome their situation and become independent, productive and responsible members of society.
OUR BENEFICIARIES’ SUCCESS STORIES
Sewing Training graduate, iLead Open Day Center for Education and Training
Rosebeth, mother of four, is one of the 64 mothers and young women who completed the series of trainings provided by iLead Open Day Center for Education and Training. At first, she was reluctant as a beginner. As she learned more and improved her skills in sewing, she fell in love with and began to enjoy the trainings. She then started to make backpacks and other sewn items for her children and friends.
Being able to earn additional income and create bags gives Rosebeth joy and a sense of fulfillment. This, along with the empowerment given by her learned skills from her sewing trainings and workshops on microentrepreneurship, have increased her confidence and excitement to establish a business of her own in the future.
Open Day Center (Bacolod) beneficiary
Kurt is a 24-year-old boy who grew up with his single mother in Bacolod City. When he finished high school, his mother left the house and never returned. After that, his life gradually got worse. Every day, he lived from about 80 PHP that he gained from backing up cars and asking for money. He used to sleep under the roof of a fast food chain. At times, he committed crimes and was exposed to drugs.
Last year, he was referred to Virlanie ODC Center where he received psychological, medical and educational support while being followed up by a social worker. He was then enrolled in the ODC’s Independent Living Program through which he took part in different activities such as tutorial classes, painting and capoeira. After his placement at a manufacturer of delicacies in November and further job skills training, Virlanie referred him to a local partner corporation: Tumandok Craft Industries, a social enterprise of Philippine handicrafts based in Bago City. He now earns a salary by making high-quality houseware pieces and gift items out of indigenous raw material. Thanks to ODC’s support, he was able to come out of the streets, have an accommodation and embark on a new beginning.
Masaya Home beneficiary
Cyrus is known to many as a jolly, playful, and friendly 10-year-old boy who loves sharing his toys and food with other children. He is affectionate to Virlanie staff and loves hugging and greeting them. However, this wasn’t the case a few years ago when he was admitted at the Boy’s Town Complex. Cyrus’ mother sought the help of the barangay and decided to surrender him and his siblings, as she was sick and no longer capable of supporting her children’s needs.
Early last year, Cyrus, along with his two younger sisters, were welcomed in Virlanie for temporary shelter. He is currently residing at Masaya Home and taking Alternative Learning System classes at La Paz Elementary School. Thanks to Virlanie’s Residential Pillar, he and his siblings are well taken care of and given the psychological, health, educational and social support that they need.
Babies and Toddlers Home beneficiary
Louise is one of the cheerful, playful toddlers at Babies and Toddlers Home. On playtime afternoons, one will easily take notice of her because of her playfulness and her right arm. Due to an accident when she was younger, doctors had to amputate her right arm. She was then referred to Virlanie after being discharged from the hospital as her mother was nowhere to be found.
When she arrived, Louise was reclusive and frail, unable to walk at the age of one year and two months, and undernourished. Together with Virlanie’s medical team, BTH’s social workers created a program to improve her nutrition. In the time when she was given fortified and formula milk, her nutrition status normalized, and she had gained weight. Later, when her right arm fully healed, she learned how to use her right stump for play and other activities.
Because of the health services provided by Virlanie, Louise developed and grew into a social, happy, and healthy toddler who likes to play and build structures with toy building blocks.
Elizabeth Home beneficiary
For a common observer, Juliet, 19, (name has been changed to protect identity) looks like any other girls of her age. However, she had quite an extraordinary childhood—Juliet used to roam the streets of Metro Manila from a very young age. Her single mother was unemployed, so she was forced to work so she can buy food.
Juliet shared, “I used to ride jeepneys and clean the passenger’s shoes hoping they give me money”, the teenager recalls. She pauses. Talking about her past doesn’t come easy. “You know… my mother used to physically abuse me.” She mutters. In the street, she faced more abuse, disease and exploitation. Facing this harsh reality, going to school became optional and finishing her education, a distant dream.
“My mom wanted me to come to Virlanie” she says. “When she died, it was written in her will. The Mobile Unit used to come by the area we lived in.” Mobile Unit is one of Virlanie’s Street Pillar projects. It was also Ate Marie, Mobile Unit Coordinator at that time, who convinced Juliet to go to Virlanie so she can finish schooling. Juliet saw the value of education. She knew then that with education, she can have a chance to improve the quality of her life and her brother’s.
Upon entering Virlanie, Juliet received preparatory training to help her re-adapt to formal learning environment. While being able to immediately go back to school, she never had proper school records either because as a child, she had been transferring from one place to another or she had been dropping out from school because her mother can no longer afford her education. Because of this, the gap between her age and grade level grew along the years. At school, she had always been the oldest among her classmates. But these circumstances didn’t affect her desire to finish her education.
Juliet’s previous experiences in the street inspired her to become a lawyer. She studies well to achieve this dream. She works hard in every subject and because of her strong determination, she has always been a consistent honor student.
Now 19 years old, Juliet is a Grade 10 student with academic honors. She plans to take up Philosophy in college and aspires to become a lawyer in the future.
Independent Living Program beneficiary
Rona was only 13 years old when she escaped her home because she was abused by her father. She ended up in the streets and tried to survive by calling passengers to go in jeepney and being a vendor in Lawton, Manila. After a few months, she ended up in Reception and Action Center where she met some Virlanie staff. Through this connection, she was then admitted in Virlanie Drop In Center. She grew-up in the Foundation’s residential program and caught up with school. Because of her family’s situation, her little sister was later welcomed in Virlanie.
She joined the ILP program at 18 years-old and underwent mentoring, livelihood skills and professional trainings. After being sent-off from Elizabeth Home for supervised independent living, she entered a boarding home and completed high school while working in a restaurant. Later on, she decided to start a University Degree in Business Administration and Management. She completed her 4-year degree while working. She graduated last year and started working in France Volontaires, an organization for French volunteers where she is in charge of doing administrative work such as processing the VISA application of the volunteers. At the same time, she was also giving some of her time to mentor the younger ILP beneficiaries.
In 2018, after 7 years of supervised independent living, she was sent-off the ILP Program for complete independence. She is pursuing her work in France Volontaires where she is performing well and being very appreciated by her colleagues and clients. Working in an international environment nurtured her will to work abroad in the coming years. She is now applying for jobs related to business administration in Europe.
Elizabeth Home beneficiary and Child Rights Advocate
Liza, 18, has been with Virlanie since 2011. As a child, she learned how to live and survive in the streets. After 7 years in Virlanie, she has grown up as a smart and healthy girl. In 2018, she was elected as the President of The Rising Youth, a young adults’ organization under Virlanie’s Independent Living Program. She has always been a facilitator among her fellow young adults. Her honesty in expressing herself and her eagerness to learn and attend trainings made her stand out among other adolescents of her age. There was no doubt that Rosemarie has the potential of becoming a great leader.
Liza was among the 25 young leaders from the National Capital Region who were chosen as participants for the training called “Too Young, Too Soon”. This policy advocacy training for youth leaders was organized by the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) through the Creating Spaces to Take Action on Violence against Women and Girls project. During the said training, they were able to learn more about the issue, and became advocates themselves, as they were given a chance to talk to legislators.
According to Liza, “In NCR, – we will do to them what they (PLCDP) did to us, so we can educate them, give them knowledge about our advocacy. Because here in the communities, especially in NCR, this issue is not talked about. They don’t know anything about it. Some people think it’s only in story books.”
Sponsored Child and Mechanical Engineer Graduate
“Sponsorship was a big help because it gave an allowance for my education from Elementary to College, to sustain everyday life and to pursue my own projects. Life in Estero was really hard, which is why even the smallest help is already significant for me. And if Virlanie hadn’t been there, I don’t know if I could even graduate.”
Carlo had lived in the shanties along Estero de Magdalena in Tondo, Manila with his family most of his life. Life at the Estero became even more difficult when his mother passed away when he was in first grade.
In 2005, Virlanie Foundation Inc. came to Estero de Magdalena to implement its Family Program to assist the poor families living in the community. Apart from subsistence and provision of basic social services, educational sponsorship is also given to these families’ children.
In third grade, Carlo became a Virlanie sponsored child until he studied in college. Just last September 25, 2018, he passed the Mechanical Engineering board exam and is now a licensed engineer. His family currently resides in Bulacan as he now works to help provide for his family and his youngest sisters’ education.
Virlanie Foundation is a private, non-profit organization reaching out to street children in the Philippines. Virlanie cares for children in need of special protection—those who are abandoned, abused, exploited, neglected, orphaned, and among the poorest of the poor.