Voice of The Child

Are we achieving our goals?

Those best qualified to answer are the children.  So we asked. Their candid and heart-warming response gives inspiration to grow and expand the program

Meet Ella, 3 year participant, Manila
My name is Rogella Mae Baris, my friends call me ‘Ella.’ I am 15 years old and I live in Philcoa, Quezon City in Metro Manila. I have four brothers and one sister. My brother and I sell Sampaquita flowers every day on the street to make money (this is often called jasmine flowers in other countries). I sell flowers before and after school. I get up at 6am to sell flowers before school. I am in my third year of high school at Ramon Magsaysay Cubao H.S. I started in the High Five Hope program three years ago when I was twelve. High Five Hope is very important to me because without it, I would not have the instruction about how to improve my volleyball. I also would not have a uniform or shoes to play in. I am thankful to High Five Hope because my friends in the program and I can see the PBA players and the woman’s national volleyball team for the Philippines. They taught us how to be much better at volleyball, including helping new players learn the fundamentals. I am very thankful to High Five Hope for teaching me and the other street children about the 5 values. Well-being, honesty, team work, respect and cooperation – these are really important to me, particularly honesty and teamwork because if you are not an honest person, then the game is not beautiful and you will have enemies! Also if you don’t have team work, then your team really won’t win games – and again you will have enemies! But all the values are important, because if you have these values in your life, you can be happy and have a very beautiful life. Being part of the High Five Hope program has improved my life and helped me play volleyball. I have more friends now, and new shoes too from High Five Hope, which I can also use in P.E. at school. In the future, I want to become a social worker because I want to help kids like me.

Meet Lark, College Hopeful, Cebu City
Here is a story about one boy whose life was changed through High Five Hope (written by Cheska D. Geli of Sun Star)

A few street children are taking to sports to learn skills that could help them overcome challenges. Lark Arambano from Salvatorian Pastoral Care for Children (SPCC), a community-based center in Cabreros, was like any ordinary kid who can be spotted in a street-corner playing basketball with friends.

SPCC was invited by the Cebu City Task Force for Children to send in kids for the second HighFiveHope Sportsfest. Arambano and his friends were sent in to be trained on the fundamentals of basketball.

Never did Arambano know that his love for playing the sport will bring him into an attractive opportunity after he was recruited by the University of Cebu Coach Caleb Gawangon to join his team’s lineup.

“He has the potential and height at his age,” Gawangon said.

At 13 and, being among children at risk, he was able to get a chance to train with UC’s 14-Under team Pasaril which Gawangon coaches. “Proud kaayo ko sa akong kaugalingon na naapil ko nila. Nakatuon kog depensa, unsaon ang pagtarong og itsa na dili ray ikaw gadula,” Arambano said. Arambano, a point guard, started training with the team last week and was recommended for a scholarship by Gawangon.

On their second year, HighFiveHope not only catered to street children but also to children from Cebu in conflict with the law. The kids are staying at the Operation Second Chance Center. Caught in situations where they had violated the law, these children may have been expected to be showing off their aggressive personalities while being trained. Contrary to this belief, the motivation to play sports resulted in a change of behavior among them. Anyone caught breaking the rules is banned from playing. The policy has encouraged the kids to follow the house rules. Aside from that, most of them also voluntarily surrendered their hidden arms and weapons as they were afraid of getting caught and not being able to play. They also played in high spirits and were practicing sportsmanship. While observing the kids’ clinics, a former inmate narrated how he was able to get a high school certificate and is now currently pursuing studies in college. “It’s not easy but I’m sticking to it,” he said.

*Update* – Recent good news about Lark coming from Angela Panaguiton, our High Five Hope Director located in Cebu:
“I just spoke to Coach Caleb and he mentioned that Lark is already a “reserved” player of their varsity basketball team enjoying a 75% discount on his tuition fees!”

Meet the Boys from Operation Second Chance, Cebu

Imagine a life growing up on the streets. Peddling flowers or cleaning the windows of cars waiting for a green light at a dirty intersection in Cebu just to make enough money for a bit of food. Begging on the streets where disfigured children are pushed to the forefront because they make more money – considering the unthinkable to try and scrape by. Too often children on the streets are driven to participate in illegal activities; whether it’s to fit into a gang or out of desperation. When these children are caught they are considered “in conflict with the law” and when sentenced to spend time in jail they are housed with adult criminals. Imagine the outlook for a fifteen year old child who has spent his life on the street and is now incarcerated with the adult jail population.

Operation Second Chance is working on changing the system. Located in near the City and Provincial jails in the hills of Cebu, Operation Second Chance houses over 100 children aged 15-17 who are in conflict with the law. Make no mistake, this is a jail – complete with bars and locks but the goal here is rehabilitation. Operation Second Chance provides job training, structure and teaches the children about respect for themselves and others.

High Five Hope has brought the Hope Festival to Operation Second Chance. Children are given the opportunity to participate in a basketball tournament within the jail similar to the children on the street. High Five Hope provides them with uniforms, shoes, socks and basketballs. And, just like the children on the street, the inmates pledge to be drug-free, violence-free and play in a fair and respectful manner. The excitement within the facility led to a voluntary weapons surrender by the inmates; if they were caught with a weapon they would not be able to participate in the tournament. The kids played hard and when the season came to a close the children asked if they could continue on their own, their pride and self-esteem had grown immensely.

After the tournament and all-star team was formed. High Five Hope, Operation Second Chance and the Cebu City Task Force for Street Children jointly requested a temporary release of the all-star team for participation in a final game against the all-stars of Cebu City street children. The request was granted and we’re happy to report the teams played with honor and dignity, demonstrating a level of sportsmanship that could only be hoped for.

“We were very pleased with the High Five Hope program at Op Second Chance, it made a real, positive impact into the lives of these boys – and I am very excited to include it as part of our rehabilitation program going forward. It makes a difference in so many ways.” Merlina Metante, Warden of Operation Second Chance.

High Five Hope is looking forward to a Second Annual Hope Festival at Operation Second Chance in spring 2012.