Reading the news reports on the suicide of 11-year-old Mariannet Amper drove me to tears. She left behind a diary which gave some insights to the source of her pain: hopelessness at the face of her family’s poverty.
October 5, 2007: Parang isang buwan na kaming absent. Hindi na kasi nakin (sic) binibilang ang absent ko. Hindi ko namalayan na malapit na pala ang Pasko.
[She couldn’t go to school because they had no money for her food or transportation]
October 14, 2007: Hindi kami nakapagsimba dahil wala kaming pamasahe at nilalagnat pa ang aking tatay kaya nanglaba na lang kami ng aking nanay.
She had simple dreams: Gusto ko po sana magkaroon ng bagong sapatos at bag at hanapbuhay para sa nanay at tatay ko. Wala kasing hanapbuhay ang tatay at nagpa-extra extra lamang ang aking nanay sa paglalaba. Gusto ko na makatapos ako sa pag-aaral at gustong-gusto ko na makabili ng bagong bike.
No child should be driven to this depth of despair. Oscar V. Cruz, among those church leaders who reacted to the news said “This means we have not done well. We have not done our civic duty to correct the abuses and to censure graft and corruption. We have kept our eyes closed. We did not act”. Bishop Eliezer Pascua of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, said, “We have called them “poor” and “eyesores” but what do you call a society which made them like this?” The social dichotomy in Philippine society is marked. 11 Million Filipinos live in absolute poverty, subsisting on less than $1 a day.
Let’s do our part and help others to help themselves. Below are some organizations which do a great deal of work at the grassroots level. They gladly accept donations in cash and kind and make sure that they are distributed to the areas and communities which need them the most. These are not dole-outs but rather funding for long-term and ultimately, self-sustaining projects. Please go through their respective sites to learn more about their programs and how to contact them.
Save the Children: http://www.savethechildren.org/countries/asia/the-philippines.html
Save the Children is an international relief and development organization present in over 40 countries which caters to the needs of children from birth to 18 years. They have adopted a child-centered, community development approach to assistance and work with families and communities to develop the skills, education and resources they need to provide for themselves and their children. There are regular follow-ups with the children and their families to ensure that progress is sustained. They have ongoing missions in squatter communities in Metro Manila, Quezon province and war-torn areas in Mindanao.
Unicef is an agency of the United Nations that is devoted to the world’s children. In the Philippines, UNICEF supports local governments to ensure the delivery of basic services for children and women, and to model good programme practices for children. It supports activities of the national government and directly provide assistance to 19 provinces and five cities.