Children are the most vulnerable members of our society. On their own, children are defenseless of the perils and harm that surround them. And although they might find ways to cope, without sufficient care and protection, these children grow up traumatized and fail to realize their full potential.
Children’s rights exist to prevent this from happening.
In the Philippines, the government has listed these rights to ensure that every child receives basic survival needs and is equipped with the essential knowledge and skill to become well-rounded productive members of our society.
According to Article III of the Child and Youth Welfare Code of the Philippines, regardless of sex, social status, religion, and other factors, every child has a right:
1.To be born well and must be raised well.
2.To live with a family who will love, nurture and provide for him.
3.To a well-rounded development of his personality.
4.To basic needs such as food, water, shelter, clothing, and healthcare.
5.To be brought up in an atmosphere of morality and uprightness.
6.To an education compatible with his needs and abilities.
7.To a happy childhood.
8.To be protected from abuse and other dangers that may cause him any form of harm.
9.To live in a wholesome environment, away from bad influences.
10. To the care and protection of the government in case his parents fail to sustain his needs.
11.To an efficient and honest government.
12.To grow up as a free individual, in an atmosphere of peace, understanding, and tolerance.
Unfortunately, many Filipino children are denied of their rights. Children in both urban and rural areas suffer from different forms of neglect and abuse. And sadly, most cases happen in the place where they should be safest, at home.
Thea* and her family had been living in a dugout shelter ever since their father, who was a carpenter, decided to rent out their house to acquire extra income. The dugout was often dark and dirty, and there wasn’t enough space for Thea and her four younger siblings to move around.
Not only were the children deprived of a proper shelter, but access to nutritious food had also been a constant struggle for Thea’s family. Their mother who grew tired of their living conditions fled away, leaving the five young children under the care of their father.
Thea, the eldest child, was only 7 years old then; and her youngest sibling just turned one.
As the nature of their father’s work required him to be away for long periods of time, Thea was forced to assume the role of the parent to her four younger siblings. She carried the responsibility of feeding and caring for her brothers and had to be mature at such a tender age.
Thea had to ask for food from neighbors and nearby relatives so that they could have something to eat. But the food given to them did not provide the proper nourishment they needed. Fortunately, a neighbor became concerned and reported the children's case to the local government unit.
The local government sent social workers to Thea’s home to assess their situation and discovered that Thea had been suffering from pneumonia while her youngest brother was diagnosed with severe malnutrition.
Upholding children's rights
The local government unit responsible for the rescue of Thea and her siblings immediately brought them to the hospital to ensure that they were provided with proper medical attention. They were nursed back to health in a facility for abused and neglected children for one month until they found their new home at SOS Children’s Village in Cebu.
Acknowledging Thea and her siblings’ need for a home and family, SOS Children’s Village welcomed the children into the village. They became part of Nanay Lorelie's growing family, and have now been happily living there for one year.
Thea has started attending elementary school this year and already knows how to read and write. Her second youngest sibling who always had to be carried around because his legs were formerly incapable of supporting his body, is now one of the fastest runners in the house. Meanwhile, her youngest sibling’s health has improved dramatically. He is now a bubbly two-year-old who loves posing for the camera.
Our Success Story
We consider Thea and her siblings’ recovery a success story. For these children to reach the developmental milestone appropriate for their ages and to find healing in their new home at SOS Children’s Villages inspire us to continue our work in protecting the rights of every child.
In time, we hope that this cycle of abuse and neglect reaches an end. And it is only through your help that we can make this possible.
*Name of the child is changed to protect her privacy.