“Sun For All Children” (SFAC) is a small front-line group that does deep into the slums of Manila to help street children. They identify the ones that can be helped, sometimes, rescuing them from various crime activities.
We started supporting SFAC in 2012 – enabling 60 children from the squatter areas to go to school and provided a full time social worker to guide the children and to make sure they stay motivated in their studies and not be lured to the streets for begging and other undesirable activities. Malou has done exemplary work in helping and guiding kids and their families with close monitoring and frequent activities (including workshops for parent too).
The number have since doubled to 115 children in 2015, consisting of 42 of the original batch and 73 new students from Grade 1 to College. Some from the original batch were able to join a new government sponsorship programme as their improvement under SFAC programme qualified them. Sometimes, the improvement extended to some of their siblings. Those who have graduated have already found suitable jobs and are supporting their families.
Update: 138 children in our programme at the end of 2016.
It was started by an ex-professional football player from Switzerland, Romain von Arx in the 80s and his wife Malou who is a local certified Social Worker has also been working on it since 1990. Their office and “meeting area” for the children is located at the floor below their living space, in Paco area, right in the middle of some of the poorest families and worst living conditions.
Romain was a pioneer who took brave steps in rescuing the children in those early days, and also organized wonderful sports events for hundreds of poor street kids as a way for them to have exposure to healthy competition and motivation. Sadly he passed away in March 2017. RIP.
Malou is also actively involved with helping the Bajaus. Bajaus are indigenous people and some of those who have landed in the slums of Manila are in abject poverty. However, some of them also turn out to be the best learners. Malou also coordinates some of them and their families for cultural performances.
The tour of the Manila Barangays (districts) with Malou and her assistant social worker (an early beneficiary of SFAC was a lesson in humility. For Noni and I, it was just a few short days. For them, it’s year-in, year-out and daily confrontation with abject poverty. SFAC has to make tough choices of helping the limited number of children they are able (legally, timewise and resource-wise) to give aid and help. I also saw the reality that not all will fully appreciate the expectations for them – there will be some drop-outs, some who fail to meet the grades (80% minimum for the school exam); and tragedy befall some – 2 weeks before our visit, one girl was raped and murdered. However, there are also those who turn out as top scorers despite their tough conditions.
For every 20 kids under the programme, there is also a volunteer Mother. It was great to see how motivated the volunteer Mother is. It is a very good idea to have such a structure because it allows closer monitoring of the children.