Visit to Hope Worldwide Youth Centre, Baseco, from the
Springboard Foundation and the Manila Mad Dogs.
Wednesday 2nd June 2004
Lisa, Gina and I went on a trip to Hope Worldwide Youth Centre in order to join in the celebrations and attend a presentation of 2 Laptop computers from the Mad Dogs: Jerry, (and other sponsors listed below).
This shanty town area where approx 60,000 people ‘squat’, has had its share of local disasters and tragedy. A number of fires have engulfed the homes of many; the third blaze on January 11th 2004, to hit the dockside of scrap metal sheets, cardboard and plywood, lasted 9 hours, creating havoc and leaving more than 4,500 families homeless. Property damage was estimated at 40 million pesos. The fire was caused by an unattended candle.
The squatter problem is an ongoing concern as it drains physical and financial resources, aggravates poor environmental conditions, can be a source of pollution and health problems affecting the wider community.
The Youth Centre, opened in 1999 by Hope Worldwide and based on this site, provides an invaluable service and support to children and their families of this local community. A team of 11 Staff alongside voluntary workers provide 4 programmes of education, skills training and social support and family development. These include:
- Day Care programme – for 5-6 year olds, currently providing places for 60-70 children. Drop In Centre – 7-17 years old, on a daily basis the Staff accommodate 50-70 children and support their daily needs, dealing with a wide range of both difficult and challenging family crisis and behavioral problems. Some of these cases are triggered by alcohol, drug and sexual abuse causing both physical and emotional damage to the victim.
- Skills Training and Livelihood programme, this covers numeric and literacy skills training. There is only one school available in the area to accommodate all the family’s children, this is by far under–resourced and basic skills are therefore not learnt by most children, over half of local children don’t attend school. The livelihood programme allows children an opportunity to make a variety of products to sell; these include cards, notebooks and goods. The children can keep 50% of the profits. This money is kept at the Centre and used towards the child’s educational needs as there is fear of it being ‘wasted’ if returned to some family homes, (on other items not considered a priority e.g. Cigarettes or alcohol).
- Family Development Programme- this involves direct contact with families to help them create a greater self awareness and understanding about family planning, health, education and social issues. The staff handles a caseload of 35 families who are parents of the children attending the Day Care Programme.
Voluntary staff is encouraged to participate in one fund-raising event a year, the proceeds go to the Youth Centre.
If any children are considered to be at ‘risk’ from abuse, they are temporarily removed from the family and cared for in a Children’s home whilst the family receive help and support from a social worker.
The main problems arising are that this educational and development service cannot be offered to all families in the local community. A stringent criteria is therefore applied in order to prioritise the ‘very needy’ and commitment from the family must be obtained before a place is secured on any of the programmes. Many children also have a long distance to walk to get to the centre and home for lunch, this can take more than an hour for some, when bad weather persists, and this makes it an impossible and unpleasant task to attend the classes. Hope Worldwide Staff are hoping to be able to develop another Satellite area to open the access of these facilities to more children and families. This of course needs additional funding in order to provide adequate resources, staff and the sustainability of another Centre.
In return for the free services they receive from the ‘Hope’ facility, both the children and their parents are expected to work a number of hours and return some community service to those less fortunate. An example of this is a child in daycare may visit a disabled child and help in some way. Parents are expected to direct, support and motivate their children by acting as ‘role models’ and demonstrating exemplary behaviour.
Staff actively encourages the older children act as leaders of a session and to co-ordinate activities for younger children, in order to take on additional responsibilities and act as a ‘mentor ‘to the younger children.
Additional activities for the children include Martial Arts training, in order to learn self-defense techniques. There is a Feeding programme on Saturday mornings which usually caters for around 100 children; a very limited budget of only P500 only allows Day Care children to have bread. The Centre relies heavily on donations, generally canned foods are given which the older children receive but there is much need for improvement in this programme and the need for a regular income to allow nutritious food supplies to be bought. The staff informed us of the sad reality when the food runs out, many children have to go without. They are left with no other option than to put on a film to entertain the children instead.
Part of our tour incorporated a tour of the local area, this vast shanty area it’s hard to imagine ‘living’ amongst the squalor and dirt as so many do, with the distinct lack of basic needs of good sanitation and clean water supplies. These conditions are particularly worsened by the bad weather and persistent rain and typhoons. Water costs P3 for 3 gallons which is a struggle for the majority of people to raise and the few who can afford this regularly have to prioritise their water needs.
We were shown a housing development programme currently in progress on the site for 100 housing units which are for sale at approx P45, 000 each. This is for many is unachievable. However, there is an opportunity for people to volunteer their services to build these houses and the family names will go into a raffle and successful winners will be given a house. The victims of the 2nd and 3rd fires on this site will also receive housing benefit (of which there is 5,000 families remaining). The project is being facilitated by Gawad Kalinga, of couples for Christ Catholic Movement.
We returned to the Youth Centre and joined by the children for the exciting presentation of 2 Lap Top computers to Staff at the Centre. These will give the opportunity for children to develop computer skills and become familiar with this technology.
With special thanks to Mike for looking after us, and the Staff and children from the Centre for making this a most memorable and invaluable experience and we look forward to working with them in future projects.
Thanks to Our Sponsors for making these donations possible:
DHL EXPRESS LOGISTICS
With special thanks:
Mr. Tim Baxter, Mr. Chin Nyuk Sen, Mr. Michael Neo, Mr. Teng Chee Min
Mr. Hisham Yahya, Mr. John Farrell, Mr. Bill Neuguth