From darkness to hope
“Karine” is a 15-year-old girl survivor of incest. She is at the Child and Family Service Philippines, Inc. (CFSPI), a shelter for sexually and physically-abused girls in Baguio City.
With the support of a shelter for victims of abuse – and her own strength and determination – she is now safe and hopeful of a better future.
The CFSPI is a 24-hour residential facility, which provides shelter, care, and protection for girls and women who are in crisis. They are usually victims of sexual and physical abuse and are experiencing crisis situation and in need of professional help.
According to CFSPI social workers or house parents popularly known to the “housemates” as their ate, manang or tita, when Karine was newly admitted, she preferred to be alone. She also had suicidal thoughts and even said that she was not willing to complete the program and withdraw the case filed against his abuser. However, as days, weeks, and months went by, she gradually appreciated the program and improved a lot with her coping and interpersonal skills. She realized that she has skills in arts and in writing poems.
Karine is the face of hundreds of girls and adolescents who are scared to ask for help out of fear and due to the fact that cases are amicably settled. Some believe that it is better to settle the case than to embarrass the family or clan.
Last week, CFSPI Executive Director Carmen Gomez-Moyaen invited members of the Regional Sub-Committee for the Welfare of Children (RSCWC) to the opening of the Healing Camp at Manzanillo Subdivision.
The RSCWC and the Regional Child Protection Working Group institutionalizes Republic Act 10821 or the Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act, which mandates the institutionalization of a comprehensive emergency program for children with the following components: establishment of evacuation centers; establishment of transitional shelters for orphaned, separated, and unaccompanied children; assurance for immediate delivery of basic necessities and services; stronger measures to ensure the safety and security of affected children; delivery of health, medical, and nutrition services; a plan of action for prompt resumption of educational services for children; and establishment of child-friendly spaces.
The RSCWC member-agencies are DOLE; departments of Social Welfare and Development, Interior and Local Government, Education, Justice, Agriculture, and Health; Philippine Information Agency; Commission on Human Rights; Philippine National Police; Population Commission; National Bureau of Investigation; National Economic and Development Authority; Philippine Statistics Authority; National Nutrition Council; Council for the Welfare of Children; Sunflower Children’s Center; and CFSPI.
The RSCWC-Cordillera members were able to interact with the CFSPI staff members and the young and innocent housemates and were touched by their stories.
DOLE-Cordillera Director Exequiel Ronie Guzman handed over various items for the children like story books, back packs, crayons, writing pads, toys, and other school supplies and requested regional directors and agency heads to adopt a child and share their blessing by granting their “wish list” this Christmas.
Guzman also discussed with Moyaen how to improve the collaboration between DOLE and CFSPI to ensure access of services and interventions for children in need of special protection; provide various trainings and activities on child abuse prevention, child labor awareness, and other related topics among children and youth; and the sharing of resources to in ensure the needed skills and knowledge in addressing cases of children who are victims of the worst forms of child labor and exploitation.
The CFSPI was founded in 1987 by Daniel Urquico, Patti Lyons, and Consuelo Alger. It was their dream to provide care and assistance to abused and disadvantaged children, women, and families.
It began its programs and services by offering drop-in and residential services to the street children of Baguio and Benguet, beginning first quarter of 1988. It eventually shifted to catering to abused children and women, when DSWD opened its services in La Trinidad. It also focuses on children and youth in conflict with the law and early childhood development and care.
For over 25 years, more than a thousand disadvantaged children and countless families have availed of the programs and services of CFSPI.
They received professional care and assistance in overcoming the trauma of child abuse, manage problems brought about by juvenile delinquency, learn how to effectively care for their newborn babies, deal with dysfunctional family relationships, and effectively reintegrate back into family and/or community.
DOLE-Cordillera and DOLE-Baguio Benguet would like to thank the Brethren of the Rotary Club of Baguio Summer Capital; their Rotary Ann’s headed by Dr. Brenda Villanueva; Saint Louis University Rotaract School of Accountancy, Management, Computing and Information Studies; Pines City Colleges School of Medicine headed by Janjan Dacawi; University of Baguio Science High School Rotaract and Interact; the kids; the anonymous donors; and the DOLE family welfare federation member-companies who donated story books, back packs, crayons, writing pads, toys, and other school supplies.
Thank you for stepping up to make a difference in the lives of the survivors of sexual abuse and exploitation.