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Lift Me Higher!
Children of the poor are always prophetic speaking quietly and infrequently. Their wounds are deep, words powerful. Pause and look more closely. Listen to them carefully. They have something to teach us. It is the value of what is the essential in the human spirit. We’ve learned to make a living, not a life. We do the larger things, not the better things that really matter. We buy more, enjoy less. We multiply our possessions, but reduce our values. Then, we plan to do more, but accomplish much less. We talk too much, but love too seldom. In leading our busy self-engrossed lives we’ve lost the ability to feel compassion, for others.
THE CYCLE OF POVERTY
Poverty. A set of factors or events that, once ignited, is likely to continue unless there is outside intervention. It is a circular cycle virtually making it impossible to break. It occurs when people – unable to afford basic human needs such as clean and fresh water, nutrition, healthcare, education, clothing and shelter, do not have resources necessary to escape it. They are denied access to pro-ductive resources to ensure sustainable livelihoods, education, or connections and experience dis-advantages as a result of their poverty. They remain poor throughout their lives. It is a state of dep-rivation and insecurity which cannot easily be changed.
In our Welcome page, we’ve mentioned that poverty flogs children harder than adults because when adults become ill; children die; when they go hungry; their children starve; and, when they remain jobless; their children are forced to beg.
WHO THEY ARE
Who are these children? Allow us to describe them in these general terms.
1. Children on the streets. These are the ones who work on the streets but do not live there. They have homes to return to after working that are usually constructed of scrap metal, wire mesh and other scavenged materials. These ‘homes’ usually have one bed inside upon which all sleep. The rest of the space is jam-packed with their meager belongings. A few of them, if they can manage to do so, attend school sporadically while working long hours on the streets;
2. Children of the streets: These are the ones who make their homes on the street. These children often create a sort of family among fellow street children. Some of them still have family ties, but do not visit them. Some even see these ties as bad.
3. Children completely abandoned. These are children who have no family ties. They are entirely on their own for physical and psychological survival.
They are all thin, untidy, undernourished and hardly equipped to survive the hazards of everyday living and working on the streets. Some of the hazards they face include sickness, physical injuries from vehicular accidents and street fights. They are often harassed by extortionists and police. They are exposed to sexual exploitation by pedophiles and pimps. They are lured to exposure to substance abuse and sexually transmitted diseases.
These are the ones that as children, societies put into institutions. They are the ones that end up being ostracized from family and faith. They are the ones that grow up to fill up our prisons. And then, we wonder why they turn out the way they do.
OUR MODEL OF EMPOWERMENT
SCOT Trust directly reaches out to these children by employing outreach programmes and providing direct services such as feeding, education and advocacy to combat child poverty. On the whole, we call this model of empowerment the ‘slingshot’. But rather than have ourselves describe it to you, we relate to you instead someone else’s story from one whom we affectionately have come to know as Gail.
Gail is a street child aged 12 – one of 400 street children whom SCOT Trust helps. Here, Abigail or ‘Gail’ tells us in her own words how this model has worked for her in 3 stages.
1. They Reached Me
“The programme first became known to me when two of SCOT’s Trustees invited me, along with 30 other street children, to come for a free lunch of steamed rice, sausages and fruit juice every week on Thursdays. For us, these lunches were our main meal for a whole week. It gave all of us a feeling that someone really cared for us rather than always being overlooked and ignored.
They also reached out to us street kids by organising fun-based social activities. They took us swimming at a resort swimming pool and occasionally treated us out to some fast food. We became part of their Christmas and other community parties they organised. By reaching out to us in this way, they allowed all of us street children and orphans to build up trust, respect for ourselves and others. This sowed seeds of self-confidence into our lives.”
2. They Raised Me Up
“Eventually, I could see that raising us up was their way to help us escape our poverty and neglect. It was what they always had in mind for us. For me and others, it also meant being happy again and becoming a part of SCOT Trust’s Hope Learning Centre. There, we acquired skills we didn’t have. We were given an education like reading, writing and maths and other higher skills like teamwork, working with others and customer services skills.
My self-image became stronger. I found a new freedom. I now could escape impoverishment! They provided me and around 50 other street children and orphans school scholarships that paid for decent clothing and more formal schooling in regular public schools. They even provided us with school supplies like notebooks, pens, pencils, erasers and pencil sharpeners. I felt empowered. I found a new confidence to break away from the heavy weight of my own of poverty and to mobilise my own inner resources to push boundaries further’.
3. They Released Me
“I felt released. I felt free to pin my hopes on myself – to be a victor rather than a victim, moving away from a life of denial and oppression towards a life of more significance. This transformation also allowed me to become part of their ‘Pinoy Pao Food Cart’ training programme where I and others gained key life survival skills.
I learned new things like customer service, team work and other people skills – ones which I discovered I could employ towards other pathways in my future life. The SCOT Trust also taught me other practical ways to use skills which I learned could be released back into the community like electrical trade training, being a shop assistant in a retail shop they set up selling products to customers.
My life has been restored with positive hope, faith and a new vision and purpose. I now can see myself completing my high school education and onwards from there, to university to complete a 4- year engineering degree to become a registered civil engineer. This is the way I’d like to give back to other struggling street children because on all occasions they taught us street kids with values of respect, honesty, love, compassion and with integrity. It has allowed us street kids and orphans to have a voice and not be ignored.”
Signed Gail – 14 May 2011
Please partner with the SCOT Trust – together we do more. Let us together slay a Goliath named Poverty. Let us together make a stand against it on behalf of the street children and orphans. Let us together reach out as champions of these vulnerable young people so that their voices can be heard.
SCOT Trust New Zealand | Outreach Programme
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