THE city marked Children's Month one month ago and implemented the Parental Responsibility Code but the problem of homelessness and of children forced to live in the streets is as pressing as ever.
There are still children roaming the streets of the city, looking for food, asking for money, and sleeping in pavements; there are children who do not receive the right of education that they deserve.
Even so, there are people who take action to address this growing problem, who are willing to help these children have better futures and give them hope of leaving a life of poverty.
Balay Canossa, which originated from the House of Friendship, started its operation in 1984 and was handled by the Canossian Sisters, hence the name.
Liza Loyola, a child care worker of Balay Canossa, said the children under the establishment were street kids and children who came from dysfunctional families or families that do not have a stable or entirely no income or whose parents are in jail, adding that they were given the consent to take care of the children from their families.
Loyola said majority of the children under Balay Canossa are from the Cogon area.
"Kay nakadaghan naman ang mga bata karon nga galatagaw (Since there are several children wandering the streets nowadays)," Loyola said.
Located in Hayes Street, Cogon, Balay Canossa, a street and community-based program, was granted the licence to operate by the Department of Social Welfare and Development in 2000.
Under the said program, Loyola said they conduct street visits throughout the city and house visits to their beneficiary families.
The children under the street-based program, once deemed educated enough, will proceed to the community-based program where they will be sent to schools within the area, with their education being funded by the Canossian Sisters, until college, according to Loyola.
She added that aside from the funding from the Canossian Sisters, there are also local and international private sectors who have given monetary and material assistance to Balay Canossa.
To “make Jesus known and love” as the objective of the program, Loyola said the Canossian Sisters aims to fulfil the said purpose through helping our “poor brothers and sisters” in the city.
Last Saturday, December 16, SunStar Cagayan de Oro visited Balay Canossa in order to bring good cheer and happiness to the children this Christmas, to show them that Christmas is indeed a season to be jolly, a season dedicated to children, be it those from the high class society or those from the poor.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 28, 2017.