In one of our poverty-stricken mission areas of the San Pablo Apostol Parish called “Happyland,” we have known about 50 children ages 6 to 12 years old swimming almost every day collecting plastic waste on the polluted and dirty waters of Manila Bay port-area just to earn a meager amount of PHP 30.00 to provide for their families. At most, these families live for just PHP 90.00 a day by peeling garlic to be sold in a nearby commercial area.
A boy named Charles is one of these children who toil on collecting scraps in the murky waters of Manila Bay. He knew none of his real parents growing up. His mother left him for another man and his father was imprisoned for eight years. He was left to live with his poor grandparents. Due to the lack of possibilities and opportunities for livelihood, they thrive by little earnings from peeling garlic. Charles, instead of enjoying his childhood playing and going to school, helps his grandparents to make ends meet by laboring at a tender age.
The (Bakhita Canossa foundation Inc.) aims to establish the “Shelter of Joy” and “feeding Program Centers” which will cater to children during the day so that we can assist their educational needs and other necessities for them to return to their proper development and to prevent juvenile labor. The plan is for the parents to bring their children in the morning to the center to feed their children breakfast, then we will bring them to a school or learning center through transport vehicle (provided by the Bakhita Canossa Foundation Inc.), and thereafter classes, fetch them for lunch. They will stay at the center for rest, study, playtime, and other formative activities.
The construction of the concrete building started last May 2019. While the construction is still in progress, the program (feeding, catechesis and livelihood) is running in the old church of San Pablo Apostol Parish – Velasquez. The target date to finish the building was supposedly last April of this year; however, due to pandemics, all programs were postponed. The project will resume as soon as the government has lifted the quarantine protocols, or has declared it safe to resume operations. For the time being, the Foundation is in high hopes that more generous people will come to our aid to make this dream a reality.