THE City Social Services and Development Office (CSSDO) has launched a project called Quick Response Team for Children’s Concern, but the children rescued show feelings of agony and prefer to just go back in the streets.
City Ordinance No. 2491 or the Children’s Welfare Code was endorsed on February 14, 1996. It stated that the children’s right to survival, protection, participation and development must be given high priority by the city.
Grace Frias, CSSDO’s chief of Children’s Concern Division, said that they are working in line with the mandate that’s why they launched a Quick Response Team for Children’s Concern.
This does not only include rounding up children violating curfew, gambling or even using “solvents” but they are also working and investigating the source and find the respective parents of those children.
CSSDO Central Head Minda Silvano made a statement regarding the children placed in shelter. “Mostly ang mga bata diri kay kanang maabtan sa curfew, ang uban gadulag handtak tunga sa gabie,” Silvano said.
Even if the staff in the shelter is accommodating and treats the children well, the environment is still not conducive for fun and laughter which all children deserve.
The children are being placed in a single room with no mattresses or even a “banig”. They sleep in completely cold flooring without pillows. No toys, not even a single ball to play around with to forget their misery. All they have is a window covered by bars just to see a basketball ring without anyone to play.
This just adds to the torment of being able to see something so exciting but can never reach it.
Visitors are not allowed to talk to the children inside the shelter unless you are the guardian or you have a special permission with authority. Yet, while walking pass through the bars and thick walls you can feel the melancholic aura just by looking at their faces. Some of them may even approach you telling you to just send them back in the streets.
Silvano said that sometimes they conduct a sing-along or parol decorations with the children. They use this chance to get to know them and build a connection. But at the end of the day they are still back in the bleak room filled agony.
The shelter has limited daily activities for development of the children in their custody. Silvano said that if they try to let the children go outside to participate in outdoor activities some or even most of them will try to escape.
She further elucidated that the children, once in their custody, can be bailed out by their parents immediately after a series of advices. Nevertheless, this is not the case for abandoned children left in the shelter with no parents to bail them out. The supposed to be “innocent” smile on their faces is blocked behind bars.
CCF (Christ Commission Fellowship) Youth Leader Leynard Ambulo and his group stated that they encounter street children asking for alms or giving carols. They only give food, not money.
They will teach them to pray first before eating and encourage them to share it with their friends especially their family. At most they will try to teach them basic jobs such as shoe or car cleaning. Before they let them go, they will also convince them to go back to school.
Dealing with children requires patience. It is the connection we make that lets them look up to us be it good or bad. We need to touch their lives in the most positive way we can so we can leave an indelible mark of kindness in their hearts.
Children must spend their “childhood” with fun, play and discovery. They must not feel locked up and hindered with their freedom to learn and experience new things. (Joseph Reyes)
Sunday Essays are articles submitted by students of Ateneo de Davao for their journalism class.