Fliss in the Philippines

Talisay City Social Services has three social workers. Just three. In a city of around 180,000 people, where child neglect and abuse is rife. You can’t hide from it – wherever you are, whatever street or area, it is hard to not spot a child on the streets, no shoes, pilfering through rubbish in order to sell enough to buy something to eat. Older siblings looking after children no older than toddlers. Children looking after children. In England, councils tend to hire one social worker per 1,400 inhabitants. That means that in a UK city the size of Talisay there would be around 130 social workers. 130 compared to 3.

This means that no matter how hard these social workers try, they can really only apply a band-aid, not a long-term solution. Before Mercy in Action was in Talisay, social workers had to keep children requiring immediate short term accommodation in their own homes. This lack of resources became apparent to me over the last few weeks, as one of our boys, “Matthew” ended up in a boys’ home in Cebu city. Matthew was arrested by the police for being out after curfew, and as his stepfather wasn’t willing to collect him he was sent to a centre. I was able to visit Matthew this week and was happy to find the place was really nice! But the fact of the matter was, he wasn’t allowed to stay there. Matthew is from Talisay – the centre is in Cebu. This small error in geography meant that he could only stay there for a few weeks. After this, they would have to turn him over to a family member, who would most definitely turn Matthew back onto the streets again. There is no centre in Talisay that will take street boys.

But the saddest fact about this whole incident is that shortly after we visited Matthew he escaped and ran back to Talisay. In the centre he was clean, he had a bed and regular meals. But this wasn’t enough to fight the hold that the streets had on him. He missed his brothers and his friends. He missed drugs. He knows the streets, he knows who he is on the streets, what life is like there. The centre, with all its comforts, was scarier than a life of crime, neglect and fear.

In amongst all of this though there is hope. Evie has now been in our children’s home for about 2 months and is doing so well. She is getting chattier and cheekier by the day, completely flourishing by having love, food, shelter and family. A few weeks ago we took our kids bowling in the big mall in Cebu city. Last year, Evie wouldn’t have been allowed into the cheapest mall in Talisay. Now, she strolls arm in arm with her big sister, straight past the guard to one of the smartest malls on the island, and no one tries to bar her way. Her identity has changed. She is no longer a street kid – she is a Dumlog girl.

Victor is also doing amazingly well. His scars have almost healed and he is still one of the chattiest 5 year olds I have ever met, even if I can’t understand the majority of what he says. We’re learning the alphabet together, with Evie as well. Some days he gets it. Other days, after spending 2 hours on the letter “A”, I still have to stop myself from screaming when I hold up “A” and he says “I”. I just tell myself it’s a Cebuano pronunciation thing and he is actually saying “A”. Ha.

These stories tell us that things can be changed. But MiA needs a boys home in Talisay. Somewhere Matthew and his brother and all our other boys can come and be rehabilitated. With staff and helpers who they know. A place where, like Evie and Victor, they can discover there is life away from the streets. A place where they can be children again, go to school and be loved.

Please pray as MiA searches at the moment for that house, that we will find somewhere suitable and affordable. Somewhere that our injured, abused and neglected boys can come and be healed, accepted, and restored.

One Response to “Fliss in the Philippines”
  1. mica diane epogon says:

    pwede me mo join sa mercy in action?ganahan unta ko mag pa sponsor sa school…..thank you so much

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