Not even the threat of catching the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) can stop the “house parents” of two child-care facilities in Malabon City from taking care and giving shelter to lost and abandoned children, including those who are in conflict with the law (CICL).
Despite the raging pandemic, the 18 “house parents” of Bahay Pag-asa and Bahay Sandigan in Barangay Longos continue to open their shelters to people they barely know with the hope of providing them with the warmth of home.
“Kasi po, ito yung aming sinumpaang trabaho as social workers. Need po talaga na pumasok kami araw araw din at kailangan naming matulungan itong mga batang ito (Because this is our sworn duty as social workers. We need to report for work everyday because we need to help these children),” Rosemarie Ramos, the head of the two facilities, told the Manila Bulletin.
“Nandoon po yung takot talaga [na magkasakit], kasi alam natin na yung COVID-19 is talagang ito yung virus na nakakamatay. So ginagawa naman po namin yung lahat ng magagawa namin na mga safe, na maligtas kami (Of course, there’s the fear of catching COVID-19 because we all know that it’s deadly. So, we’re doing everything to stay safe),” she added.
Bahay Sandigan is a facility built by the local government of Malabon to take care of children who were left to fend for themselves on the streets, including those with special needs. But over time, it started to also admit abandoned elderly people.
Bahay Pag-asa gives temporary shelter to CICLs pending the resolution of their charges.
Since the imposition of the lockdown in March, the two facilities have admitted at least 35 clients, mostly CICLs accused of committing various crimes during the pandemic.
Although they fear for their health as well as their families, Ramos said they must continue to serve.
“Kami po yung mga nanay at tatay nila dito (We are their mothers and fathers here),” she said.
She added that they are also inspired to help the children, especially when they see them reforming after their admission at the facility. Some CICLs, Ramos said, returned to school or landed their own jobs.
“‘Pag na-admit na sila dito, may mga services kaming binibigay sa kanila, una educational assistance. Kasi dito sa loob, mayron silang alternative learning system program (ALS) na ginagawa through online class (Whenever they are admitted here, we offer them various services including educational assistance. Here, we have ALS which is being done online),” Ramos said, adding that those who were enrolled under ALS may continue their schooling once outside. “Bukod po sa ganon, meron silang physical activities, kaya nalilibang sila (Aside from that, they also do physical activities so they are entertained).”
“Sa feeling po namin, bilang isang staff dito, masaya kasi yung mga ginawa namin sa kanila, kasi diba may mga activities kami dito, may mga spiritual development pa kami dito at saka counseling. Mayroon silang napulot dito paglabas nila at may pagbabago (We are happy with what we’re doing for them. We have activities like spiritual development and counseling, and they change and learn something once they go outside),” she said.