I WAS walking along Lacson Street last weekend when I noticed a group of street children playing at the sides of McDonald’s and Jollibee. Upon seeing me walk, one of the kids rushed to follow me bugging me for loose change. I usually scold any street kid I meet and tell the kid to go home and study instead. To my mind, no child should beg for food on the streets and streets are never a playground for them either. It is just too dangerous. But the kid continued to follow me so I just took the opportunity to practice my Hiligaynon by starting to ask him anything I could think of.
Like any other street child, the boy looked so hungry. I could not help but wonder how his day was. Such depressing reality paints just how much we failed as a community. No one in that age should be subjected to such ordeal. It is just wrong and something just has to be done.
Indeed, it’s been a common sight in any metropolitan to see children in our city streets either vending or begging. This problem needs to be addressed by our local government. The private sector has not made efforts too, and if they had it has not significantly addressed the issue since street children are still very prevalent.
Let me share to you my notes years ago about street children and how Cebu City tried to address such issue. You see, Cebu City created a task force specifically to address the problem. They call it Cebu City Task force on Street Children (CCTFSC). If you visit their Facebook page, it would show these as their history:
1986 – The birth of the Cebu City Task Force on Street Children came about when a group from the National Street Children Project came to Cebu City to give orientation on the National Street Children Project to government and non-government organizations.
1987 - Cebu City became a Third Country Program for Children (CPC III) area and started to receive funds from UNICEF.
1989 – CCTFSC together with Mrs. Margot V. Osmeña established the Children of Cebu Foundation, Inc.
1991 – CCTFSC and CCFI formally opened the Parian Drop-In Center, a temporary shelter and a processing center for children in need of special protection.
1994 – Gatimpalang Pang-Lingkod Pook awarded CCTFSC for its strong networking with the local government unit and non-government organizations.
Today, CCTFSC continues to grow in its membership and continues partnership with UNICEF. It is accredited with the local government unit and receives funds for its annual activities like Summer Camp and Christmas Convention. It is also a recipient of the Street and Urban Working Children Project of the Australian Agency for International Development (1995- 2003).
I knew about their success because I volunteered for them during my college years while I was studying at the University of San Carlos. I would spend my weekends playing basketball with those kids and tutor them with basic reading and writing. The police picks up every kid they see on the streets and brings them to Parian drop-in center either to be returned to their parents or be referred to an institution. Perhaps, a similar scheme can also be replicated here.