UNICEF has issued a warning about the sexual violence perpetrated on children in the Philippines, which, in 60% of cases, happens in the home . Moreover, the exploitation of these children on the internet has become big business for the country and for families who see it as a quick way of earning money. According to UNICEF, out of the 1.6 million children who live on the streets, 600,000 are forced into prostitution and around 28 are arrested for some offense on a daily basis.
On Negros Island, an area with one of the highest child poverty rates in the Philippines, the Fundación Kalipay Negrense works to rescue children from poverty, violence and sexual abuse. Their rescue program does not consist solely of taking in children and covering their material needs until they reach adulthood; it also offers them a home where they can heal from the abuse and the poverty they have endured. In short, a new life.
Kalipay's good work is founded on four guiding principles: “no child should be on the streets; no child should go hungry; no child should be denied education; and no child should be subjected to violence.”
Following these maxims, the organization developed a residential care program for children who have suffered – or are at risk of experiencing – any of these situations: abandoned, malnourished or orphaned children, minors forced to work, or victims of physical or sexual abuse, or people trafficking.
The activities are organized so that children can experience family life and have their physical, mental, emotional and social needs met. Kalipay offers a home for these children and encourages their emotional growth while also providing them with food, clothing, medical care and instruction on values. The educational side is carried out through formal and informal methodologies which help them to develop skills and grow intellectually. They are also offered therapy tailored to their particular psychological needs.
Fundación Kalipay offers children who have been treated appallingly in their short lives with a roof over their heads and food on their plates, but they also provide something truly important: love and affection. These children feel safe for the first time in their lives. No one can hurt them now.
Kalipay, in the local Hiligaynon language, means happiness.