Moving encounter with Pope Francis: Testimony of Filipino street children
(Vatican Radio) One of the most moving encounters of the Apostolic Trip of Pope Francis to the Philippines was during the Meeting with Youth at the University of Santo Tomas on Sunday.
The Holy Father has listened to the testimony of two street children being sheltered by the Tulay ng Kabataan foundation (ANAK-Tnk). Fourteen-year-old Jun Chura and twelve-year-old Glyzelle Palomar had experienced the worst in the street of Manila.
“Why is God allowing such things to happen, even if it’s not the fault of the children? “ asked Glyzelle in tears.
Pope Francis hugged both children, and later asked “Did I learn to cry when I see a child who is hungry, a child using drugs in the street, a child without a home, a child abandoned, a child abused, a child used by a society as a slave?”
The testimony of the children was given in Tagalog. The ANAK-Tnk Foundation has released an English translation. We provide it below.
Jun “Michael” Chura
14 years old
Tulay ng Kabataan Foundation, Inc. (ANNAK-Tnk)
Dear Holy Father, My name is Jun Chura, I am fourteen years old, and I am a former street child. Because of the fact that my family was not anymore able to send me to school, I went away from home and left my family. Then I was feeding myself with what I can find in the garbage. I did not know where to go and I was sleeping on the sidewalk. I was looking for a piece of carton to make a mat. And I was trying to overcome this situation even if my body was so dirty like my companions in the street. They were also overcoming their situations in spite of the fact that their bodies were dirty also. I did not know also how to find food day after day, and what I was doing was just to wait for people to finish their meal in restaurant, then I was asking for their leftover. Also sometimes I was roaming around just to find broken material that I could sell: I was looking for plastic bottles, or papers and when my bag was full, I was selling it to make some money to buy some food. It happened also that I was knocking at doors in the neighborhood to beg for food but often they had nothing to give. When I was in the street, I witness also things I don’t like, terrible things that happened to my companions in the street : I saw that they were taught how to steal, to kill also, and they have no respect anymore for the adults. Sometimes they were quarreling because of the things they stole. I saw also some children who were taught how to use drugs like shabu, cigarets or marijuana. I saw also some of my companions sniffing solvent or glue. These are drugs also. This is what I have often seen happening to my companions in the street. When I was in the street I was also very careful because I saw also some of my friends being fooled by adults.
They were pretending to give us money to catch attention and approach the children and let them think that they will be given something to eat, or the opportunity to study and care, but the truth is that they have other goal and they will use you, like for cleaning their homes, and sometimes they have malicious goalls like sexual abuse. There are so many abuses happening in the street! After a certain number of days, suddenly I found back hope because there is a street educator from «Tulay ng kabataan» foundation (ANAK-Tnk), who asked me if I want to join this agency helping children living in the street. He asked me if I wanted to join, and at first I decline the proposal. Few days after, when I learned that Tulay ng Kabataan is really taking care of street children who are not anymore with their families, I realized that not all people have no heart. There are still people with hearts ready to help children in need.
When I joined «Tulay ng kabataan» foundation (ANAK-Tnk), I was very surprised to see that there are people really ready to help and then I started to dream again. I told myself that when I will finish my study, I will be the one helping street children like me before. I will be able also to help my own family and the «Tulay ng Kabataan» foundation (ANAK-Tnk) which was the one helping me to continue my study. I know today thaat I will be able to continue my study because TNK (ANAK-Tnk) is at my side, and do not stop helping me and my companions from the street. Thank you so much!
Glyzelle Iris “Techie” Palomar
12 years old
Tulay ng Kabataan foundation, Inc. (ANAK-Tnk)
There are many children neglected by their own parents. There are also many who became victims and many terrible things happened to them like drugs or prostitution. Why is God allowing such things to happen, even if it is not the fault of the children? And why are they only very few people helping us?