The city of Marikina, considered part of metropolitan Manila, the capital of the Philippines, is home to the Fortune neighborhood. Within this community, most residents rent modest homes, which are typically little more than shacks constructed from scrap wood and sheets of corrugated metal. They usually have no indoor plumbing - or even beds – and are shared by eight to twelve family members. Tragically, hunger, malnutrition, health issues, and a lack of sufficient clothing often cause children living this neighborhood to miss school - and sometimes even to drop out altogether.
Thankfully, Fortune’s Children at Parang, or the Fortune Center, our affiliated project in this part of the Philippines, is able to support impoverished children and their families. Established by the Damayan at Tiago Foundation, this center functions as both a school and daycare center, which offer community-building programs to assist teenagers and adults facing issues caused by poverty.
A busy place
On a recent visit to the Philippines, Children Incorporated’s Director of International Programs, Luis Bourdet, found that the Fortune Center was bustling with activity. Over fifty children at the center are supported by our sponsorship program there. Upon his arrival, Luis was greeted not only by our sponsored and unsponsored kids, but by their parents as well.
The parents expressed to Luis their gratitude for the support their children receive from their sponsors. As a result of regular monthly funds being sent to the center, the children are receiving a meal every day. Sponsorship support also provides tutoring for the children, and it supports all their educational needs, like uniforms, supplies, shoes, and clothing for school. Twice a year, a medical team goes to the center to set up a clinic for the children who live in the surrounding community and their families.
Luis found that since his last visit to the Philippines a few years ago, the children are continuing to thrive. Many of our sponsored children who have been in our program since they started school have graduated from high school now - and some are even off to college. Luis was told by the Director of the Fortune Center, Polly, that two former sponsored children, Maria* and William*, have even graduated from college. Maria studied English in college, and is now a high school teacher. She has mentioned to Polly that she is interested in returning to the Fortune Center to help establish an English tutorial program, with support from Children Incorporated.
Hope for the future
Before leaving, Luis spoke with Polly about what she hoped for the future of the center. Polly mentioned that she would love to establish a water purification plant on the property, so that a few families could start small businesses. The plant would generate potable water at a low cost while also employing members of the community who could then sell the water to Marikina residents to generate income. At the same time, the children could learn about small business administration by observing community members at work.
Beyond establishing this new program at the center, Polly would also love to add twenty to thirty more children to our sponsorship program, as many more youngsters who live nearby could use the support of a caring sponsor, so that they may also have the opportunity to obtain an education and rise above poverty.
*Names changed for individuals’ protection.