PHILIPPINES: Salesian Tuloy Foundation Gives At-Risk Youth a Chance to Excel
(MissionNewswire) Having access to education is a critical step in overcoming poverty. In the Philippines, drop-out rates double as children reach secondary school and there are more than 11 million out-of-school youth, according to UNICEF. Almost a quarter of the country’s population (including a large percentage of children) live in poverty.
The Tuloy Foundation, founded in 1993 by the Salesians, has been helping at-risk youth succeed in school. The Foundation’s school program began with just 12 children but has since grown into a comprehensive curriculum with multiple facilities all focused specifically on the needs of at-risk youth. To date, thousands of street children have created successful lives for themselves with the help of Tuloy.
Youth must be at least nine years old to enter the program which begins in first grade and continues through high school and technical training. Youth who are just coming off the streets receive food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, psycho-social interventions, recreation and education and skills training. Older youth pursue vocational training in a variety of technologies, including automotive, electrical, welding and woodworking. Students also have the ability to access on-the-job training in sponsor companies.
“Youth have to decide if they want to live here until they are 18,” explains Father Rocky Evangelista, director of the program, in a recent Philippine Star article. “And when they are 18, they graduate into the wide world. Their last 18 months are spent undertaking vocational training to prepare them for this.”
Fr. Evangelista was able to expand the program in 1999 through a partnership with the Department of Social Welfare and Development which leased 4.5 hectares of land in Alabang, Muntinlupa to the Tuloy Foundation.
Today close to 1,000 boys and girls attend the program, with more than 200 of the students residing at the Tuloy orphanage. In addition to residential and educational facilities, youth can take part in the Tuloy Nature Therapy Center, a retreat that introduces street youth to the beauty of nature. The Center also offers students classes in farming and agriculture while its livestock and vegetable garden help supply food.
Mario, a student at Tuloy, was just 10 years old when he ran away from home, desperate to escape his abusive father. Living alone on the streets, he relied on begging and odd jobs to pay for his food. He was destined for a life of poverty, drugs and crime had he not been discovered by social workers and placed in the care of the Salesians.
Today, Mario lives with other former street children at Tuloy’s Namunkura Dorm. He is thriving in a safe and supportive environment where he is receiving a formal education and hope for a brighter future.
“Youth must first gain self-esteem and self-respect,” says Fr. Evangelista. “Then they respect others and start to dream and aspire.”
The students at Tuloy are given many opportunities they would otherwise not have, both inside and outside the classroom. Thanks to the generosity of private donors and sponsors, students can choose between activities such as gardening, dancing and rugby (sponsored by the Australian construction company, Leighton). According to the same Philippine Star article, the boys on the Tuloy rugby team are the defending champions of the youth touch rugby competition organized by the Philippine Rugby Football Union.
The importance of team sports, such as rugby, is highlighted in the teamwork, respect for others and discipline they inspire – all skills that can be applied to other aspects of life.
The Tuloy Foundation provides an education and a wide variety of opportunities to poor youth, helping them break the cycle of poverty. With programs like those offered at Tuloy, the Salesians in the Philippines work to meet the ever growing needs of street children to ensure that every child has the opportunity to reach his or her potential.
Philippine Star – The Haka boys of Tuloy Don Bosco
UNICEF – Philippines
Salesian Missions – Philippines: A Better Path for Street Children