Visiting Friendship Home for the first time, you’d think the children at this Catholic after-school program were relatively well-off. They seem bright, lively, well-fed, courteous and disciplined.
Visit them in their homes, and your whole perspective changes. If these children appear “well-off,” it is a tribute the Friendship Home’s uplifting environment and wonderful programs.
One young boy, Remark, goes home each day to a dank 4-ft. wide shanty he shares with six other family members in the slums of metro-Manila. Space is so scarce that the children have to sleep in shifts while their parents sleep outside on top of their vegetable carts.
Like many other Filipino children in the slums, Remark could have easily fallen through the cracks. Br. Luis from Friendship Home told us the biggest danger facing children is the lure of the streets. A boy can find ways to get by on his own, running drugs or committing petty crimes, without going to school.
He said, “We have to battle those short-term temptations every day, instilling in the kids long-term goals…and the discipline and hard work to reach them.”
With support from Cross Catholic Outreach, Friendship Home is encouraging children from the slums to stay in school and pursue freedom from drugs, violence and abject poverty. The center provides nutritious daily meals, transportation to and from school, tutoring, religious education and enriching cultural and recreational opportunities such as arts & crafts, music and field trips.
The result? Students are finishing high school and finding good jobs that empower them to support their families and live outside the slums. They are being transformed materially, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.