Help street children by not giving them alms, says social welfare chief

MANILA — Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo on Monday reiterated her call on the public not to give alms to street children.

Instead of giving them alms, people can organize parties or gift-giving activities for these kids, which would be a lot safer than letting them hop from one public vehicle to another to beg, Taguiwalo said during the social welfare department’s Consultation Workshop on the Enhancement of Programs and Services for Children and Families at Risk on the Streets.

During the workshop, it was pointed out that street children do not mind the danger of hopping from one jeepney to another so long as they get money from people and the only to solve this is not to give them alms at all.

Taguiwalo admitted that the problem is really huge and is linked to poverty, hence her department could not solve it alone.

This problem needs a serious and cohesive solution, she said.

“Actually the LGUs have the immediate responsibility for these (children),” Taguiwalo said, calling for stronger coordination among local government units (LGUs), especially at the barangay level, and partners from various organizations.

The social welfare chief noted that barangay officials usually know these street children and their families, thus they can make the proper intervention to discourage them from begging on the streets.

She suggested that barangay officials hold activities that promote the street children’s physical and mental health, such as making lanterns and other Christmas decors, singing, dancing, and art contests, and where they could be fed and receive gifts from charitable organizations. This way, the community becomes a part of the solution, she said.

At least 58 activity centers have been set up and are assisted by non-governmental organizations, and the education department, for instance through its Kariton Klasroom Program in District 1, Barangay Malanday, Valenzuela City.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is also assisting the Social Services Development Department (SSDD) of Quezon City, particularly Barangays Apolonio Samson, Paang Bundok, Tandang Sora, Loyola Heights, Project 6, Libis, Novaliches Proper and Fairview, among others.

Interested organizations that want to help could contact hotline 734-8623 for the complete list of activity centers. To report street children and their families, people could contact the same number or tweet information at the department’s @savestreetkids twitter account.