THE road to Boys’ Town of Cagayan de Oro Center is narrow, rough and dusty. It is a few miles farther from the city proper and one has to rent a vehicle to reach the place since it is not accessible by public commute.
The SunStar Cagayan de Oro team along with members from the Kagayha-an Eagles Club took the time to visit Boys’ Town for a day of sharing in this season of giving. While the team did not shun the heavy traffic over the weekend, arriving at the place was worth the trip.
Seeing the children who were all smiles was an achievement by itself. They received their Christmas gifts from different sponsors. There were slippers given by Pilipinas Shell, bags from Graphics, hygiene kits from the Kagayha-an Eagles Club and food from McDonalds. A one whole piece of lechon baboy from the Cagayan de Oro City Government was also left for the children’s dinner.
The kids were very participative during the parlor games made for them. They could not contain the happiness that the team has brought to them.
“Lipay ko kay among budget sa pagkaon karun nga adlaw ma-save pa namo para sa sunod na pud nga adlaw. Nagpasalamat kaayo me sa inyo (We're happy because we can save our budget on today's meal for tomorrow. We thank you all),” said 17-year-old June Yol.
Yol said he does not know his parents. He said that he was picked-up by the policemen in the street and brought him to the center.
The Boys’ Town of Cagayan de Oro Center is a substitute home for boys’ ages 7-17 years old with no continuing ties with their families. Its mission is to care, protect and rehabilitate children in especially difficult circumstances. It also seeks to attract and gradually remove children and youth away from the dehumanizing conditions in the streets. It serves the male street children who were neglected, physically maltreated or abused, orphaned and abandoned.
At present, the center has a total of 35 kids. Due to the growing number of street children being referred to the center, there is a need to provide enough space for them. There is only one house for all of them to sleep at night. The other buildings have no roofs yet.
“Okay nalang man pud mi basta kay naa lang mi masilongan kung mag-ulan (We're okay as long as we have somewhere to go to if it rains),” Yol added.
Yol is the oldest among the kids in the center. He said no one ever donated fresh clothes for them. He said even at seventeen, he has never worn a shirt of his size and it is always two sizes larger. But still, every Christmas season, the children were excited to wait for gifts given to them from various organizations.
“Nagpasalamat ko sa Sunstar nga nag gift-giving mo, dako kaayo ni nga tabang sa amoa labi na gyud sa mga bata kay maskin wala sila’y mga pamilya, happy kaayo kay naa mo. Naghatag mo’g time sa ilaha. Ma-feel na gyud nila nga love sila sa community. So, dili sila ma left behind bitaw. Kani pud siya nga season, basta Christmas kay excited gyud sila basta naa’y gift (I thank SunStar because of your gift-giving. It's a big help to us especially for the children even if they don't have a family, they're happy that you're there. You made time for them. They can feel that the community loves them so they're really not left behind. They're excited for Christmas season because they'll have gifts),” said Marish Jay Cagas, registered social worker in Boys' Town.
“Ubay-ubay pud baya mo nga gift-giving – mga kompanya, mga family, gaanhi sila dinhi (A number of you gave gifts, companies and families come here),” she said on the other organization who came to give gifts to the kids.
She also added that with this kind of outreach, it helps lessen their budget for foods.
The problem the team has seen was the building. It’s there but it was not still good to live in. It has no roofs. Other than that, the health of the kids is not monitored. The kids and the place need helping hands.
“Ge-request naman namo maam, kabalo na among head nga engani, pero wala daw budget for renovation. Wala man gud ge-pundohan ang capital outlay. Gani kato among kitchen, gepangitaan nalang gyud to ug pamaagi kay nahugno naman gyud to siya (We already requested this. Our head knows about the situation but there was no budget for renovation. We weren't given funds for capital outlay. We are finding ways to use our kitchen because it has fallen down),” she said on the problems they encountered in the center.
Cagas said they already had several proposals, including the renovation of the center, but they were not given budget for capital outlay.
“Kay kani man gud pud nga center naa’y tendency nga himuon ni siya ug sports center. Gubaon ra pud ni siya. So naa’y tendency nga kami ug ang Tahanan mubalhin me didto sa Maitom (This center will be converted into a sports center. It's already dilapidated. So there is a tendency that all of us and the Tahanan will transfer to Maitom),” she said on the center’s request for renovation.
Cagas said that it's better for the City Engineering Office to reconstruct the center than making it into a sports center.
Although it was a plan to make this center into a sports center, still, it really needs some hands for humanity.
The SunStar’s way of sharing Christmas last Saturday has brought happiness to the kids. The glow in their eyes as they opened the gifts they have received was a priceless picture.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 24, 2016.