Monday, December 29, 2014

Unfortunate kids in cebu city

Cebu City:  The Kid on Fuente Osmena Blvd

Article created: June 2014

This is a true story about a little girl I met on the streets of Cebu City.

In 2008, I was approached by a little girl who had been wandering Fuente Osmena Boulevard.  She looked about 8 year old.  Beggars and con-artists of every age are common in that area and I really did not want to be bothered that day, so I told her to leave me alone.  I had troubles of my own.  I only had enough for my own survival at the time.

As I continued walking, she followed saying in Cebuano, “Ate, sige na, malouy ka naku gutom na kaayo ko wa jud koy kaon”.  Which means:  Elder sis, please have pity on me.  I’m very hungry, I have not eaten yet.  

I stared into her eyes trying to figure out if she was sincere.  Her dark eyes were hopeless.  She had layers of dust on her pretty, brown face.  Her hair was a tangled mess at shoulder length spilling on skinny shoulders.  She wore an old, gray t-shirt with holes at the seams, filthy brown shorts and no shoes.  

I felt sorry for her.  As bad as my situation was, hers was 10 times worse.  So I asked, ‘’Ok, what would you like to eat?”

“I wanna eat Jollibee, ate,” she said.  

“What would you like to eat in Jollibee?” I asked.

“I want burger, coke and french fries,” she replied.
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The fact that she was a little demanding and knew exactly what she wanted made me smile.  We went to the counter to order her food which left me 100 pesos (about $2USD at the time) for the rest of the week.  We got our order and sat down right next to as statue of Jollibee himself.

“Do you like the food?” I asked.

“Yes,” she replied through a mouth full of fries.

I looked over at her and did something that I bet she was still too young to do.  I wondered about her story and why she should have such a fate, “How come you  are out in the streets begging? Do you have parents?”

“No,” She said.  “I don’t have parents.  I have been abandoned and a lady adopted me. She has a  very small shop on Fuente corner but she does not have a home too..”

“I heard DSWD [Department of Social Welfare and Development] has a project for street kids,” I told her.  “Don’t they pick you up so you can be adopted permanently?”

“Yes, they do pick us up at daytime but throw us back in the streets at night time.”  Then she said something that haunts me to this this day.  “Ate, can you just bring me home with you and adopt me? I would be a very good girl for you.”

At the time, I was also homeless living on about 2,900 Pesos/month ($64USD) per month.  I had to  refuse.  I was homeless because I decided to live by myself rather than be pressured by my parents to marry a rich guy for money to help them out of poverty.

Street kids are not allowed to enter Jollibee loiter because the staff does not want paying customers to be bothered while eating. There are too many beggars in the Philippines these days.  The situation is out of control.  More families are living in the streets and pushing their kids to beg or worse.

These kids are brought up on the streets and sometimes turn into criminals taking violent risks to survive. They stop begging and resort to stealing wallets, snatching necklaces or purses.

It makes me wonder what is the source of the problems in Cebu City? Is it prostitution, street kids, beggars?  It seems like these are all the results of one thing...poverty.  But what is causing the poverty?  How can it be solve?  

I think it might be that the population multiplying much faster than Cebu’s socio-economic growth can handle.  I am relieved that RH bill has been approved allowing organizations to teach and promote family planning. Now, people can decide for themselves the right choices for their families.

Passing a law will not change the situation of the Philippines overnight. It will take time. In the mean time little kids have to suffer.  

I still wonder about that kid on Fuente Boulevard.

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