Toward a brighter future
Thousands of minors are forced into prostitution in the port city of Cebu City. A new aid project set up at the edge of a red-light district by the charity group “Kinder in Not” e.V. offers an escape from need and poverty.
It is estimated that more than 10,000 mostly underage girls and women are forced into prostitution in the red-light districts of the port city of Cebu City. Criminal smuggling rings lure the girls into the city from the small islands nearby with false promises of well-paid work in a restaurant or factory. The girls follow willingly, hoping to support their families back home. On their arrival in Cebu City the nightmare begins.
They are beaten, starved, and plied with alcohol and drugs to force them into submission. To discourage them from running away, their tormenters threaten to fetch their brothers and sisters to Cebu as well. The situation of these young women, alone and unprotected, without money, and marginalized within the city, seems hopeless.
Many pre-school and school children live in terrible conditions in one of these red-light districts. There was no kindergarten for the smallest of them, and the older ones had practically nowhere to do their homework in peace. Father Max asked us to support him with his work in these difficult surroundings. Our joint projects to date have concentrated on the refuse dumps in Cebu City and a cemetery, in which many of the poorest families live. It is the children who generally suffer most and who are the most vulnerable. But there is also hope of escaping this vicious circle if help is forthcoming early enough.
On the ground floor of our new building some seventy pre-school children will be looked after and prepared for school by two teachers and other assistants. On the middle floor, schoolchildren of all ages will be able to do their homework assisted by a teacher and students. The top floor will have a conference room for the children’s mothers and also for training courses for the schoolchildren. As the health of the boys and girls gives cause for concern, they will also be offered free meals. The kitchen is currently under construction. The aim of the project is to give ongoing aid to children in the form of appropriate support measures until they finish school.
Another school building in Alegria in the south of Cebu island is almost finished. This unplanned structure caused great financial problems for the charity group “Kinder in Not” e.V. On a visit to St. Peter Academy junior high school in Alegria, which is attended by over 800 children from the poorest families, serious safety violations were identified by the education authority in two large classrooms. As the building is already over thirty years old, it was no longer worthwhile refurbishing or repairing it. New windows had to be installed, the noise level in the classrooms was much too high, and there were no emergency exits in the case of fire.
Successful training offers an opportunity
As only half of the sum required to finance the construction of four large classrooms had been secured, the WIRTGEN GROUP offered to provide the missing amount to enable construction to start without delay. After the school vacation, the boys and girls in the fourth and fifth grades will move into the new school building, ensuring that they do not have to interrupt their schooling or travel long distances to school.
This year, around 200 former pupils of St. Peter Academy will complete their vocational training in Cebu City with the financial aid of their sponsors and the charity group “Kinder in Not” e.V. After they have found jobs, they will be able to lead independent lives. They have managed to break out of the cycle of poverty in which their families in Alegria have been caught and they will be able to support these families in future.
In this way, we will have achieved one of our main goals.