10/01/2008, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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Salesian priest saving hundreds of street children in Manila

by Santosh Digal
Moved by Saint John Bosco’s charisma, Father Evangelista has welcomed almost 600 children into the centre he founded where they can live and study. Ordained by Pope Paul VI, he said he wants to offer street kids “full dignity” and ensure their reintegration into mainstream society.
Manila (AsiaNews) – The small centre set up in 1993 to host 12 street kids in the Manila suburb of Makati is now a large complex for 201 students who live and study there, joined during the day by another 397. Today the Tuloy Sa Don Bosco Foundation, established in the nineties by Fr Rocky Evangelista, a Salesian priest, has become a real home for hundreds of children who otherwise would live in the streets. In 2001 the Foundation moved into new and bigger headquarters, a 4.5-hectare Street Children Village in Alabang (south of Manila) which includes a dormitory, study area, dining room and kitchen.

“We aim to be a center of excellence in the reintegration of street children into mainstream society through a comprehensive program of caring, healing, and teaching,” said Father Evangelista who was ordained in 1970 by Pope Paul VI in St Peter's Square and was moved by Don Bosco’s charisma to rescue children from the streets.

Today the Don Bosco Foundation offers a comprehensive programme to ensure a gradual, balanced and systematic approach for children's physical and sexual development, which includes a residential programme, education, medical services and expenses, spiritual and moral formation as well as sports and recreation, music, dancing, singing, acting and the visual arts.

But all this is not cheap. Every month the Foundation needs three million pesos (US$ 64,000) to perform its tasks and help the 598 children whose age ranges from 9 to 18 years.

Father Evangelista can meet these expenses thanks to two volunteer ‘house parents’: Cathy Go, a former senior officer of the Bank of Philippine Islands, and Marivi San Juan, a former vice president and representative of the Bank of New York in the Philippines. Tuloy Foundation, Inc.'s board of trustees consists of 12 Filipinos, an American, a Spaniard and a Briton.

For his work on behalf of street children Father Evangelista has been honoured by Catholic associations as well as public institutions.

Filipino President Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo named him ‘Captain’ for the cause of street children.

Since it opened in 1997, the Foundation’s school has graduated over 480 students in basic education and 800 in vocational technology.

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