(Feature) Family camp-out is a regular activity of DSWD –Soliman

January 26, 2015 11:29 am 

By Leilani S. Junio

MANILA, Jan. 25 (PNA) — The family camp-out activity conducted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) among street families and children in some Metro Manila areas — which coincided this year with the recent visit to the country of Pope Francis — was not done for the first time.

According to DSWD Secretary Corazon J. Soliman, such activity is being done regularly since the department is conducting an assessment or study on what type of program will be best under difficult situations for the street families and children who do not have permanent homes.

Soliman said that as part of preparations for the pilot implementation of the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer (MCCT) in 2013, an orientation and registration through family camp has been conducted since 2011.

Based on the records, such activities took place in August 2011, December 2011, May 2012, May 2014 and the latest one on Jan. 14-19, 2015.

Soliman also clarified that there was no intention to hide the said street families and children as planning was done much ahead of the Pope’s visit because of the target increase of MCCT’s implementation for this year.

She noted that all of the said activities are done to “familiarize” or orient the families and children on how it feels or how comfortable it is to live in a house where there are doors, windows and toilets.

The DSWD chief said familiarization is needed because more often than not, the street dwellers usually sleep at night in pushcarts and any improvised protective shields but without a toilet, a door or a window that they can lock or give them a feeling of privacy and protection.

She explained that such undertaking is meant to teach the parents and the children on the safety and comfort that a house, even just a small one, can provide for a family caring and protecting one another.

She also said that part of the undertaking is to let the parents understand their real obligation to their children, like informing them that it is the duty of parents to provide for their children and not the other way around.

Through interesting workshops or related activities, the social workers also impart to the parents that their children are not safe if they continue living or staying on the streets and can be depriving their children of a bright future due to the presence of negative influential factors that can affect their lives like syndicates, drug addiction, crime and abuse.

Through separate workshops also, children are imparted also with knowledge on the importance of good grooming and hygiene or keeping themselves clean.

In addition, children are given motivation that their dream to have better lives and future can come true if they will study and earn even at least a high school diploma.

All these things are introduced to them during the camp-out activities through the MCCT program and how that program can help them or give them a “fighting chance” to change their existing condition.

MCCT is a poverty alleviation program patterned after the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) in the sense that it is also giving cash grants as an investment for the health and education of children.

The program is designed to ensure that children of the beneficiaries will attend an alternative learning school (ALS) of the Department of Education (DepEd) and do regular consultation in designated health centers which will be monitored through the Department of Health (DOH).

For a period of six to 12 months, the DSWD is the one which will shoulder the rental of an apartment or a small room where a family can decently live, safely and protected from dangerous elements in streets and from threats of floods during heavy rains and typhoons.

Within the period of inclusion in the program, the parents' capacity to earn will be assessed and those qualified will be introduced to skills and livelihood development so that they can be linked to employment opportunities or business establishments that will buy or market their products.

The goal of the program is to enable the parents to earn enough to shoulder the expenses for continuing rental of the apartment or small room for the family as soon as the 12 months period is over.

The families who have the capacity to live “permanently” in the apartment can be later switched or added to the regular “CCT beneficiaries” since they already have a permanent address which is one of the basic requirement under the CCT program.

As of now, there are more than 2,000 families in the National Capital Region (NCR) benefiting from the MCCT.

Some of them are employed as street and park sweepers, others use their skills to earn daily income as they receive trainings on hair and beauty wellness program, massage, welding, and livelihood from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and other partners of DSWD.

More than 11,000 families have been evaluated by some local government units (LGUs) as street families that are under difficult situations and need to be included in the MCCT program or other appropriate programs for them.

Some common causes of street dwelling or leading to nomadic way of life of some street families are cases of becoming victims of fire and migrating from the provinces and failing to find work in Metro Manila. (PNA)

SCS/LSJ

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