50% of crimes committed by children in the Philippines are theft or crimes against property. Poverty is often the root cause.
Some of these boys will find themselves at the Regional Rehabilitation Center for Youth (RRCY) near Tanauan. It is currently home to some 56 boys.
VFV ‘s role at the center is to provide volunteers who can teach the boys various skills such as maths and English that will help them find a way out of poverty in the future.
I spent a day at the center to find out how these boys are turned around so that they can re-join society and make a positive contribution.
The first thing I noticed was how polite the boys were and that there was mutual respect between them and the staff.
The boys are taught to respect not only the staff but themselves and their surroundings. The center is spotless and surrounded by beautiful gardens created and tended to by the boys.
The result is a nurturing environment that encourages the boys to develop a sense of community and the skills needed to flourish within it.
Life at the center is not easy – the boys wake up at 4am to start their daily chores!
There are rotas for keeping the center running smoothly. Each of the boys is assigned several tasks- cooking, cleaning, clothes washing etc.
Giving the boys these responsibilities teaches them life skills, helps stop them re-offending and nurtures independence.
It is also up to the boys to maintain the grounds of the center. Studying landscape gardening teaches them how to design and create beautiful gardens.
The boys have even learned how to grow vegetables which are used in their daily meals.
The staff work hard to create a good rapport between themselves and the boys. The social workers, house parents and security guards work as a team to observe the boys and look after their welfare.
The boys can be at the center from anywhere from 6 months to several years so it’s important that they feel like part of a caring family.
Careful planning goes into what the boys will do once they can leave the center. Their social workers consider if they can go back to their community or if they need to make a fresh start somewhere new. If the crime was against a person, the victim and their family are considered when thinking about where the boy will live after release. The center keeps in touch with the boys afterwards. They are encouraged to return to the center and share success stories to inspire the current occupants.
Having spent a day at the center I could see that the staff are dedicated to their work and genuinely care for the boys. The boys were very well behaved and seemed happy occasionally sharing jokes with the staff.
How can I help support the good work of the center?
The center’s director Marcela Lim shared with me that the main difficulty they face is a lack of resources due to lack of budget. They do get some donations and these are much appreciated but they are often just at Christmas. They desperately need quality resources such as text books to support the long term development of the boys.
Sadly many resources that had been built up over years with hard work and donations were lost or badly damaged when the center was hit by Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.
An incredible job has been done to restore it from the shell it was reduced to after Yolanda but due to a lack of funds resources such as computers and books have yet to be replaced.
VFV Volunteers bring in paper, pens and reading material for their lessons but there is a need for much much more.
The director shared with me her dream to create a library for the boys to aid their educational development.
If you would like to help Marcela with her dream for a brighter future for these boys and their communities you can find out about volunteering at the center or donate (please state that you would like your donation to go to RRCY).
Their spirit has been rebuilt after Yolanda -let’s help them build up their resources!