Myra Grace Ibanez is working as the Social Worker for the Homeless. In this article she shares the story of a brother and sister living on the streets of Cubao.
(The names of the children are not their real names).
Twelve year old Mila is one of the millions of Filipino children whose education has taken a backseat due to poverty. The first of the three children, she was left with her parents’ friends on the street when her parents were sent to prison earlier this year due to alleged drug cases.
Mila is supposed to be in grade 6 this year, but she had only reached grade 2 when her parents were sent to prison. Her brother Leon is eight years old but has never been to school. Her younger sister died at an early age due to malnutrition.
Mila is one of the children attending the Drop-in Centre every Thursday. She wants to go back to school and continue to learn how to read and write. She used to help her mother when she was 6 years old, selling candies (sweets) and cigarettes in the streets. She then learned basic Maths computations and is good in numbers.
Mila envies those children who pass by her on the street being sent by their parents to school. She recalls when her father diligently sent her to school and would even ask the jeepney driver to let her have a free ride. Her parents collected garbage at night-time and sold it in the morning for her allowance and for their food to survive their day.
Mila is a girl with a million dreams, “If you have an education, you won’t go hungry and you live with the comforts of a house”. She always remembers these words that her parents told her. But right now, she has no other option but to be in a situation of being “left behind” -with so many opportunities that she should have as a child: a complete family who she can lean on, parents who can guide her, a safe home to stay in, a complete meal a day and access to education.
Life has become miserable for Mila and her brother, living apart from their parents. Every day is a battle. They live by scavenging, just to be able to eat twice a day and then spend the rest of their time in playing in the streets. Sometimes they get into jeepneys to beg the passengers for some money.
Mila is uncertain as to when she will see her parents again but she hopes to be reunited with them one day. She is planning to enroll in school and continue her studies next school year. Presently, she is one of those Drop-in Children who have a desire and eagerness for learning. As part of her preparation, she attends the Drop-in Center’s One hour Basic Literacy Tutorial Class for children every Thursday. This aims to train and improve the basic literacy of street children.
It is heart breaking indeed to witness the sad realities of children being left behind on the streets. They have so many physical needs but how much more pressing is the need for them to find out about their greatest need, that of a Saviour from their sins.
Please do pray for Mila and Leon. Pray for the work of the “Drop-in Centre” as they seek to show the love of Christ and faithfully share the Gospel. May these children and all the others we have contacts with find grace and forgiveness in the Lord Jesus Christ.