Pangasinan center assures neglected kids’ future
DADO WAS only 7 years old when a social worker took him to the Caring for the Future Foundation (CFF) Center in Sual, Pangasinan, a few days after it began operating in 1998.
He was a neglected child. His mother was suffering from a psychological problem and had not been able to take care of him and his two siblings.
When Dado arrived at the center, there was no glow on his face, not even a faint smile. But it did not take long for him to feel the warmth of his new environment and his new family, pushing him to strive and succeed.
Today, Dado, 24, is manager of a branch of the Guanzon Group of Companies (GGC), a local firm which belongs to the country’s top distributors of mobile phones and motorcycles.
“Dado was just one of CFF’s success stories,” said Joseph Lo, CFF’s former president and now a member of its board of trustees. Lo is also president of GGC, a homegrown family-owned corporation.
CFF, a nonprofit organization, runs the only one of its kind facility in Pangasinan that takes in street children, particularly those abused, neglected and abandoned. It was established as an offshoot of the partnership between the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) of Saitama in Japan and Pangasinan dating back to 1993.
In one of their meetings, then YMCA Saitama executive director Akira Futagoishi and the late YMCA Pangasinan general secretary Edlario Campos shared views about the plight of less fortunate children in the Philippines, particularly street children.
“They agreed that a better world can be achieved by providing a home for the street children. They resolved right then and there to establish a foundation in the Philippines to address this concern,” said Ma. Cristina Dalope-Mamaril, CFF president.
In 1998, CFF was incorporated and registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Since then, the center had taken care of about 40 children.
“Our goal is to bring [these children] back to their respective families to help them. But we want them to experience familial love before they return [to their relatives],” Mamaril said.
Taking care of children aged 4 to 12 and making them feel they have a family to depend on as they grow up is done at the CFF center.
The children are housed in a 2.6-hectare hillside compound at Barangay Baquioen in Sual, overlooking the Baquioen Bay. They are supervised by house parents and social workers.
They are sheltered, fed, clothed and sent to school until they finish high school. After graduation, they are sent to the care of foster parents who send them to college.
The center started with just six children and a dormitory. Now, it has four dorms and 16 children. Two of the dorms are for the children and the rest for Japanese students, who come to the facility four times a year for a work camp.
CFF Japan, which was organized three years after the birth of the local CFF, has been sending groups of Japanese students to the Sual center for their exposure trips.
The students interact with the children, plant trees, paint buildings, do construction work, prepare cultural presentations and other activities they don’t usually do in Japan. So far, about 100 Japanese student groups have conducted work camps in the facility.
Reynaldo Jimenez, CFF vice president, said work camps have been a big help not only in instilling a sense of belonging to the children but in sustaining the center’s operation.
Every month, the center needs at least P200,000 to pay for the children’s education, clothing and food, salaries of workers and incidental expenses, he said.
For a two-week stay, CFF charges students with a program fee to defray cost of their stay, food and transportation. The income left from the fees is then used to support the children’s needs.