At St. Martin de Porres, children rescued from the streets of Manila, are given a new lease on life. In the first loving home many of them have ever known, they learn to trust that their basic needs—for food, shelter, clothing, and education—will be met. Just as importantly, they discover they can look to their elders for love and guidance. In marked contrast to the hopeless, even exploitative adults they encountered on the street, St. Martin’s staff instill in the children both the morals and life skills they’ll need to mature into productive, happy adults.
Having financed the vast majority of the St. Martin de Porres Children’s Village construction, the JDVSF will help St. Martin teenagers make that transition by establishing an assisted living facility north of Manila in Tondo, where St. Martin teenagers can live while pursuing vocational training. “When children arrive at San Martin de Porres, we care for them, help heal their broken souls, and give them an education,” explains JDVSF Treasurer Hugo Banziger. “Some of the St. Martin teenagers are ultimately able to re-integrate with their families or even adoptive parents, who can sometimes help them find jobs and establish themselves within the community. However, half of our children will reach their majority as orphans.”
To lessen the perils these teenagers face moving from St. Martin’s protected confines back to the city, the JDVSF is now finalizing plans for a facility that will house 25-30 high school graduates, who will live, go to school, and work under the guidance of house parents and social workers. The project—which includes the purchase of land and renovation of an existing building—will cost roughly USD200,000 and is due for completion in 2012.
“We’ve worked hard to build a safe and enriching environment for our children at St. Martin, but they can’t stay forever. Seeing them achieve healthy independence is our ultimate goal and the definitive proof we’ve done our job,” says Banziger. Chosen for its proximity to Manila, Tondo is both near the job market St. Martin’s graduates will be entering while still somewhat removed from the slums they came from. “It will be challenging for them to re-engage with life in Manila, but with the supervision we will provide we are confident they will master these challenges.”