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Street and abused kids discover fairy tale lives in two local shelters


Even astray street children and out-of-school youth can see that education is a way out of their poverty. They believe that a brighter future awaits them once they graduate from school and eventually become gainfully employed.

And so it is for a total of nine children from Akay Kalinga and Tanglaw Buhay centers, five of whom graduated from grade school and four children from high school at the end of the last school year.

Last March, Jul Haliddin graduated high school from Zamboanga City National High School-West. He now says he wants to pursue his college education by taking up BS Marine Engineering because he wants to earn to help uplift the living condition of his family and also to travel to other places. Jul added that he can realize all these dreams by striving hard in his studies and giving back all the good things that the center have provided him. Jul has been staying with the Akay Kalinga Center for 11 years now, and still wants to stay until he finishes his studies.

Thirteen-year old, Rosella Madsali was awarded Best in Science during graduation.  She revealed that her life changed when she stayed with Tanglaw Buhay three years ago. “Tanglaw Buhay, gave me the opportunity to go to school because life in our province (Bongao, Tawi-Tawi) was really hard and my parents have nothing to support my schooling. I thank them for accepting me in the center.” Rosella said in Tagalog.

The proudest graduate is Phebe Ricos, who finished elementary at 17 years old. She shared a difficult revelation about her life before she entered the center. According to her, she was coerced by her parents to work at an early age and most of the time her family ate once a day only. “I am very happy that I have finished my elementary schooling. I am thankful to Tanglaw Buhay for giving me hope that all dreams will come true. Someday, I want to become a social worker so I can repay the center, what I have become because of them and impart my experiences and knowledge to other children who live in the same situation like me.” Phebe added in her native Cebuano.

With its mission of providing shelter and free education to street children and out-of-school youth, the Akay Kalinga and Tanglaw Buhay Centers have given new hope to many street children who have graduated from school and provide them the opportunity to achieve their dreams through education.

Ms. Loida Sapalo, center head of Akay Kalinga, said that in its 13 years the center has already helped six children to graduate in elementary and 15 in high school. Sapalo said that at preset the center is sheltering 20 children and sending 56 children to school. “Not all these children are orphans. Some of them have their families but because of some pressing circumstances, they were brought and recommended to the center. Some of them stay with their parents but have to attend school regularly”, she added.

The Akay Kalinga Center is partly supported by Kapatiran, an organization composed of Filipinos who work abroad and other local benefactors to fund the organization for the benefit of street children.

Tanglaw Buhay Center cooperates with the Western Mindanao State University and funded by Terre Des Homes Netherlands with the goal of rehabilitating children who were victims of human trafficking and providing victims and survivors of child trafficking of their rights to protection, recovery and reintegration into the society.

Both of these centers are projects under Katilingban sa Kalambuan, Inc., a non-government organization into child care, gender support and low-cost housing.

Although there are still many children roaming the streets day and night, every child leaving the street life – like Jul, Rosella and Phebe – is a victory against poverty. Through Akay Kalinga and Tanglaw,Buhay, these children get to have a fresh start in life. (Peace Advocates Zamboanga)

By Ma. Cristine Jean C. Taola

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