HOPE is always alive when one is breathing. Everyone has a dream, and you can reach it if you pursue that dream. There are opportunities available for all.
Dominque Lemay (Kuya Dom), a French Social Worker, visited Manila, Philippines in 1987 to conduct a case study on street children.
It was a life changing moment for him. The results made it clear that his mission is to give love to the street children and provide them with safe places. He partnered with Social Workers to form a foundation to house street children. This foundation closed in 1991 and so, in 1992, he founded Virlanie Foundation (VF).
VIRLANIE, a combination of his children’s names, Foundation, is an organization for the poor, abandoned, orphaned, neglected and abuse children. Thanks to French volunteers and donors, he was able to build a home for them. Virlanie presented their programs for the children – education, medical needs and more. Homes were built for children with special needs and unprivileged children and youth. A center – Open Day Center was also born. ODC is a shelter, a place where these children can wash and cook their meals, among other things.
Virlanie Foundation came to Negros Occidental in 2017 to launch an open day center in Bacolod City for the street children and youth at risk. Another project in 2019 was to build a residential facility for young adults with special needs. This facility is in Ma-ao, Bago City.
VF Management then conceptualized to establish a separate entity in Negros Occidental. It was finalized in 2019 and in 2021, VF turned over completely the management of ODC Negros and the farm to Virlanie FAITH, Inc.
Virlanie FAITH invited private citizens (a Social Worker, a Psychologist, a Pediatrician and others) to become members of the Board and Mrs. Adelle Lemay became the Executive Director.
I was able to visit the Virlanie FAITH, Inc. office and was able to talk with Ms. Adelle. She shared the programs and services of the foundation.
FAITH, which means food always in the home, was added to “Virlanie” to distinguished Virlanie Faith, Inc. Negros Occidental from Virlanie Foundation based in Makati City, Metro Manila.
Virlanie FAITH’s beneficiaries according to their brochure are:
⦁ Street children – children living and working on the streets, often lacking stable homes and access to education and basic needs.
⦁ Youth at risk – marginalized youth facing challenges that make them vulnerable to influences that may dominate their perceptions and behaviors.
⦁ CICL – minors who have committed specialized support for their rehabilitation.
⦁ Street families – families residing on the streets, struggling with homelessness, poverty and lack a stable living environment.
Usually, these beneficiaries, come in to ask for help. Oftentimes, they need a place to wash up and a few times, they need medical help. An intake interview is essential.
Eventually, many would decide to join the Open Day Center (ODC)’s programs:
⦁ Education – taking DepEd recognized ALS (Alternative Learning System) which allows them to finish their basic education or attending the BLS (Basic Learning Service) which teaches them to read or write. It is never too late to learn.
⦁ Independent Living Program (ILP) provides the youth at risk with formal and informal trainings that will equip them with knowledge and skills (like making resumes; self-awareness seminars) that will make them capable and productive members of the time society. Others may choose to attend TESDA classes.
The learners (education) and the trainers (ILP) have assigned Social Workers who prepare intervention plans after a thorough interview with them. Some are under the scholarship program.
There are children and youth who come and go. They know that they are always welcome.
The center has assisted more than one thousand children and youth since 2022 from the different barangays of Bacolod City. Many of them are given second chances. Some are in college older than their classmates but the will to learn and to graduate is high. Those who graduated Junior High (through ALS) are enjoying scholarship for their Senior High at the Mother Teresa Colegio de Bacolod where they have excelled academically. Another happy story is a youth who used to live in the streets but after becoming a trainer is now working.
Virlanie FAITH has collaborated with the City of Bacolod, Department of Education, the Diocese of Bacolod, TESDA, and many other organizations. Virlanie FAITH hopes to partner with the Province of Negros Occidental and more groups this year.
Students from La Consolacion College, UNO-R, and Trinity Christian School have volunteered their services to the center. Volunteers, both local and international, are accepted.
Other schools like St. Scholastica’s Academy had an outreach activity last year.
If you wish to join the programs or share your blessings – like sponsor a child and share your talents, please visit them at Cordova Avenue, Hospital Road in Barangay 18 or check out their Facebook page “Virlanie FAITH, Inc.” Someone is waiting to be assisted.
Next time, will schedule an interview with Mr. Domique Lemay and talk about the residential facility for adults with special needs.
Be a blessing today!*