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Childhope Asia Philippines
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Childhope Asia Philippines

 

Childhope Asia Philippines

 

Context

 

            In 1989 CHILDHOPE conducted a survey of street children   in Metro Manila, to gain insight into the various aspects of their life  in the streets. One interesting finding of the study was that children who roam around for one or two weeks spend most of their time not in the  streets but in private quarters, usually prostitution houses. Girls without families come under the care of the elder “caretakers” that also acts as  pimps. On average the girls are between the ages of 9 and 14, but some can be as young as eight. And while it is true that anyone who lives  in  the streets faces a lot of danger, for  a  girl  there  is  the  additional  risk of being sexually exploited both by adults and by one’s peers. Vulnerability to police abuse is a reality.

 

            Except  for  certain  actions  against  foreign  pedophiles,   the survey  found,  there  is no sustained or systematic campaign against child  prostitution.  Children  12-15 years old continue to be lured  from their  families  in  the belief that they will be given legitimate work,  and end up in the hands of prostitution syndicates and recruiters for foreign entertainment establishments. Clearly,  concerted  community action is urgently needed to stop this exploitation of poor young children.

 

CHILDHOPE is an international organization working for and on behalf of   street  children  throughout  the  world.   Individuals  from   children’s agencies   who  saw   the  need  for  an  international  effort  in this area founded it in 1986. Its Board of Directors included representatives from international children's agencies and individuals who work directly with street children.

 

            The  CHILDHOPE  Regional  Office  for  Asia,  based in Manila, was  established  in  July 1989 following the First Regional Conference on  Street  Children  in  Asia  held  in  Manila  in May 1989. Conference participants recognized  CHILDHOPE  as  the  organization  that could initiate  networking  and  collaboration  among   the  different agencies working  for  street  children  in  Southeast Asia. In 1991 the office also started   responding   to   requests   for   information     and     technical assistance  from  South  Asia. In 1995, CHILDHOPE officially became CHILDHOPE Asia Philippines, Inc.

            The  regional   office  is tasked a) to establish contacts/linkages and   facilitate   networking   among individuals,   organizations     and agencies   in  child  welfare  work;  and  b) to facilitate advocacy, social mobilization,   research,   technical   assistance   and  program support activities at the national, regional and international levels.

 

Vision/Mission

 

            CHILDHOPE believes that children have the right to develop fully as human   beings,   and   that  society has an obligation to help make this a reality especially among the underprivileged.

 

            Specifically, CHILDHOPE believes in assisting street children, by promoting   their   ability   and   that   of their families and communities to identify   and   respond   to  problems, by mobilizing internal and external resources   to  focus  on   these,  and  by involving all sectors in providing solutions.

 

            CHILDHOPE   sees   itself   as   a   facilitator   among the different organizations,   bringing sectors and resources together to safeguard the rights   of  street   children.  It   believes   that   when challenged, the world community   at the local, national and international levels will respond, out of a sense of justice and compassion, to the plight of these children.

 

Approach

 

            CHILDHOPE   employs,   directly   or   through   its partners,   the following   tools   to   carry   out   its  mission: research, including situation analyses,  case  studies; capability-building  and training of the staff and volunteers of  street children programs; advocacy ;  inter-agency collaboration,   organization  of  task forces, networking to gain access to information    and    other   resources;    technical    assistance  provision; development      of      programs ,    including     street     education     and community-based   programs;   resource   materials   development   and production;    resource       mobilization;       and       operation       of     a databank/information center.

 

            Two of CHILDHOPE's programs -- the Community Mobilization for the  Protection  and  Rehabilitation  of Children at Risk of Prostitution and Sexual    Abuse,  and    the    Resource    Center on    Street    Children -- demonstrate the effectiveness of these tools.

 

Community Mobilization for the Protection and Rehabilitation of Children at Risk of Prostitution and Sexual Abuse

 

            The project's  main objective is to enhance public awareness of and  mobilize the community against the alarming problem of child abuse and prostitution in  Pasay. Programs are  addressed   primarily   to municipal authorities, barangay  officials,  youth   groups,  schools, the police, church groups and other non-government organizations.

 

Components

 

            The  project   has    two    major    components -- advocacy  and capability-building.  A  multi-sectoral  Task  Force Committee Against Child Prostitution leads both efforts. Advocacy sessions are conducted in the barangays, with the increasing participation of city schools, church groups,  grassroots organizations and community  leaders. Follow-up sessions are also conducted to provide consultancy support for barangays  with trained volunteer advocates, and to  help volunteer counselors intensify campaigns for the early identification and referral of child abuse cases.

 

            Capability-building    activities    include    the   training     of   youth volunteers, especially out-of-school youth and street children, in the use of theater for advocacy and in the facilitation of discussion groups for values clarification   and   adolescent  sexuality   education.  Selected youth and adults   also   get   training   to hold advocacy sessions in their respective barangays   or  neighborhoods.   Selected   representatives from various religious   and  child welfare groups, public schools and government units likewise train in paralegal work and education.

 

Impact

 

            The  Pasay  project has been able to mobilize major sectors in the city through  the organization of the task force to conduct advocacy, train volunteer advocates and counselors, and   coordinate  the referral of victims   of    child    abuse    and    prostitution    for  direct protection and assistance, especially for protective custody by the government.

 

            Since the project started in August 1994, advocacy sessions have been held in 104 of the 140 targeted barangays. About 30 out of 90 adult volunteers who  trained for advocacy work have become actively involved in   organizing  advocacy   sessions in the remaining barangays. Sixteen youth volunteers were also  trained, at least 10 of whom can be tapped to conduct advocacy sessions.

          Other  capability-building   activities  --  a   theater   arts workshop, adolescent sexuality and value clarification sessions, staff development seminars and preparation for  outreach to entertainment spots -- also achieved most of their participation targets.

            There are about 35 trained Para-professional counselors who are in contact with  the project staff and participate in the outreach work in bars and disco houses.

 

            So far, 21 cases -- 19 of them victims of abuse and two of prostitution  --  have   been   reported   to   CHILDHOPE   by    the advocates/counselors   and   by   other   barangay   members   who  have attended advocacy sessions.

            CHILDHOPE  is advocating for the organization in each barangay of  a  Local Committee for the Welfare of Children (LCWC) to coordinate actions on child prostitution and abuse. Orientation on this   has   been  given  to  23  Pasay  barangays,  with  19  of  them conducted by CHILDHOPE and the   rest   by the Maryville Community Development Center which  is a member of the Task Force Committee Against Child Abuse and Prostitution.

            The  subject  of child abuse and exploitation has also become part of  the  weekly  orientation  given  by the Pasay City Health Department to those applying for a health clearance/permit, which is required for work in hotels, restaurants, bars, massage parlors and related establishments.

 

            Aside from  Pasay, a task  force against child prostitution and sexual abuse has  been formed in Kalookan. Each networks with some 50 government and non-government groups.

 

Partners, Beneficiaries

 

            NGOs and  community groups are CHILDHOPE's major partners in  its  advocacy,  capability-building and technical assistance work in the Philippines  and  in other countries of Asia. The governments of Vietnam, Cambodia, Nepal, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh and China are active participants.

 

            Street   children   in   specific   areas  in Metro Manila are assisted through   street   educators'   collaboration   with   partner   NGOs such as Pangarap   Shelter,   Families   and   Children   for   Empowerment    and Development,   Bata   Foundation,   Children's   Growth Center and Child Research, Sun For All Children, and others.

 

Youth Participation

 

            CHILDHOPE’s   philosophy  is  that   children   and youth must be actively   involved   in decision-making activities related to their situation,. Thus  it  encourages  them   to   express  their ideas during assemblies, meetings,  symposia, consultation  and counseling sessions with street children  themselves, their families communities, and organizations assisting them.

         This philosophy characterizes all CHILDHOPE-managed and coordinated  activities.  In  the 1997 regional consultations conducted by the  NGO  Coalition  on  the Rights of the Child, of which CHILDHOPE is the convenor  and secretariat for 1997, CHILDHOPE  emphasized children  and youth participation in the actual conduct of the consultations. Hence,  the  children/youth had their own workshop discussions and their recommendations  will  join those of the adult participants for submission to  the UN   Committee  on   the Rights  of  the Child as part of the NGO Supplemental Report.

            For   the   Pasay   Project,   selected   youth   are   trained  as peer counselors,  facilitators  on  value  clarification/education  and adolescent sexuality,    and     volunteer    advocates    through    drama   and   theater workshops.

 

Parental, Community Involvement

 

            Just   as   it makes sure  that the views of the street children and  urban  poor  are  counted  in  all  its  programs  and  activities, CHILDHOPE likewise actively solicits the views of parents through organized advocacy sessions  and  assemblies,  and  in counseling and non-formal education sessions.  Parents  are  actively  involved in the referral and reporting of child abuse cases.

 

        CHILDHOPE   has   a   standing  policy to involve community leaders and residents  in  its   programs.  In  the case of the CHILDHOPE-Pasay and CHILDHOPE-Kalookan  Projects,  this becomes paramount as these envision  communities   which   are  able  to defend children's rights, and which are capable of advocating, counseling, and referring street children and prostituted children to prevent further exploitation.

       CHILDHOPE is also batting for the organization in each barangay of a  Local Committee for  the  Welfare  of   Children  as a people's organization,  rather   than  as  part of the political barangay council. This vision  can  only  come  true with appropriate support from the community residents themselves.