During the late 1980s, the Philippines saw an increase in urban migration, and with that, a large rise in the number of street children.
Street children, particularly girls, face incredible challenges, including child labour and high-risk behaviour that keeps them on the streets. Consequences can include an elevated risk of illness, substance abuse, assault, unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and human trafficking.
Additionally and as a result of unstable living situations, children are often forced to work long hours to support themselves and their families, which prevents them from receiving an education, a key to moving away from a life on the streets.
Laura Vicuña Foundation (LVF) reaches the most vulnerable and marginalised children by focusing on the prevention of child abuse and the provision of education, employment and a safe home for children in crisis.
The organisation identifies and prevents vulnerable children from becoming street children and facilitates children's removal from the street environment through re-integration to their own homes, foster placement or residential care for abused girls.
LVF also encourages public awareness and draws attention to the needs and problems of children and young people across the Philippines. Its pioneering concept of mobile Child Protection Clinics acts as a preventative grassroots advocacy approach to child protection. Vocational and Technology Centres on the island of Negros Occidental also provide government-accredited courses for working children in the sugarcane plantations.
In 2010 alone, LVF directly served more than 2,000 children, achieving a 97% retention rate in its education programmes where all its students moved to the next grade level. At its Centre for Healing, 95% of the children showed an improvement in psychological and emotional wellbeing. In addition to rescuing 25 children and young people from abusive environments and transitioning them to a safe situation, LVF helped to secure job placements for 68% of their Training Centre graduates.
LVF has decided to use the Impact Award funding to build a new centre to house vulnerable girls in Quezon City. This will replace the current facility, which is hazardous to children and badly in need of repair. The new centre will also have a greater capacity, enabling the organisation to house three-times more young girls in a safer, more comfortable environment. The aim is also to create a space in which LVF can offer other outreach services to the community, such as ALS (Alternative Learning System) classes for street and other vulnerable children, and a Child Protection Clinic.
Photos: Kristian Buus