05/26/2023, 14.53
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Anak-TNK serving as a ‘bridge’ for street kids in Manila in the past 25 years

by Santosh Digal

Founded in 1998 by Fr Matthieu Dauchez from France, the NGO has been active in slums helping disadvantaged kids at risk of falling victim to drugs and violence. An estimated 830,000 children are in this situation in the Philippines. The first step is to reconnect with their families.

Manila (AsiaNews) – Anak-TNK, a Manila-based non-profit organisation (NGO) started by Fr Matthieu Dauchez, 47, a French priest incardinated in the Archdiocese of Manila, has assisted more than 70,00 disadvantaged kids in 25 years of activity in the Philippine capital and other cities in the country.

Anak means child while TNK stands for "Tulay Ng Kabataan" or “bridge to kids” in Tagalog, the country’s main language. Thanks to hundreds of volunteers, the NGO helps neglected and abandoned kids.

An estimated 830,000 Philippine children are in this situation, exposed to violence and drugs, many forced to beg, steal or sell sex to survive.

Since it was founded in 1998, Anak-TNK has rescued thousands of children from Manila's streets, slums and landfills, where children are often abandoned.

The organisation is committed to act as a “bridge" between the children and their families, to help them reconnect. But the bridge also symbolises the work done in city slums providing young people new opportunities.

The NGO’s focus is on health, protection and nutrition, as well as psychological support, since young people are not only neglected by society, but often rejected by their own families because of something they did.

“We provide the opportunity to see what they could become with proper guidance, health, and education,” Fr Dauchez explained. Thus, they can “return to their families, and become part of mainstream society.”

To achieve this, “the organisation's first offer is to establish trust with them and accept them for who they are,” the clergyman added. “Over time, the heart's scars must mend, and inner confidence must grow with proper guidance.”

Currently Anak-TNK runs 21 centres housing 305 street children, 55 with disabilities. Four other facilities offer hospitality to another 800 young people who scavenge for materials in landfills.

Seven centres are located slums where they can directly help local communities, providing a home for more than 1,300 young people.

All the work is done by 190 full-time employees, 60 volunteer slum “mothers”, and 125 foreign volunteers who come to the Philippines from all over the world to help.

The educational aspect is one of the most important. In the Philippines,  one in three children do not attend school.

"We help each child throughout their academic career, which we adjust to meet their needs,” said assistant director Gloria Recio.

Health is the second important aspect. In cities, more than 40 per cent of the people reside in incredibly filthy and unhygienic conditions, lacking proper food and medication. One in three kids has stunted growth.

During his trip to the Philippines in 2015, Pope Francis met with some of the children helped by the NGO.

The organisation is now present in Singapore, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, and Switzerland, but its greatest achievement has been the children who turned their life around.

Nico has lived at one of Anak-TNK’s centres since 2016. Now the young man has turned his passion for music into a band that plays at all Anak-TNK events.

“It hasn’t always been easy for me. I come from a broken family,” he explained. “They “abandoned me on the street when I was eight,” but “Music has always helped me to never give up,” especially guitar, piano, drums and singing.

Today he has left his difficult past behind, like all the members of the band, and many other young people that the NGO continues to help.

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