- They sift through the garbage for food or recyclables, leaving the leftovers of (what they found in the garbage) to rot while flies swarm, rats scurry about, and smaller children play nearby.
- There are more than 1.5 million street children all over the Philippines.
- The working street child works from 6 to 16 hours, often in a combination of “occupations.”
“I was only ten when I ran away for good. I soon experienced how difficult it is to be on your own with no one on your side. You don’t have any source of food. When it rains you don’t have a roof or a shelter to go to. That’s why I was forced to do things against my will; I did them in order to survive.”
–Jessa, 17 years old
“I sleep in a park. I pick up pieces of cardboard to sleep on at night, the bits that are thrown out by people. It’s very uncomfortable. I don’t feel protected on the streets. A proper place to sleep would be a house.”
–Jack, 12 years old
One man’s response after spending only a few days on assignment with some street children. The kind of assignment he was on does not matter. His response does.
“It was their sheer numbers that originally drew our attention. But no more are they just a myriad of dirty faces blending in with the poverty on the littered streets of Manila. I had gone a bit nervous and expecting to be thronged by begging children. But these kids instantly knew we were there to talk to them, and that meant more to them than what we might give them. But still I reasoned, “These kids are street smart. They figure if they will cooperate and talk with us, we will owe them more later!” Now, ashamed I ever entertained such thoughts, I must confess that after three 14-hour days, not one child asked us for a thing. Our interest in them was more satisfying than money or even food. Even as I sit at my computer trying to express what we experienced, I’m overcome with emotion and cannot help weeping for these children.”