Where do helpless parents get help in the Philippines?


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I am sharing this true story about Angeline because of one question: What is the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) good for?

Why do we have the DSWD?

The problem with Angeline
There is really no place like home. After 8 years away from home and from my family, here I am, having lunch with my 3 daughters and my grand children. We are having fun talking to each other when suddenly I hear a loud noise from our neighbor. I take a look at my daughters but it seems to me that they are used to hear the sound from that woman in the back of our house. Days past by, and I always hear my new neighbors voice, shouting and cursing someone.

One day, when we are taking an afternoon rest, I ask one of my daughters what is happening at the other house. She told me about the story of our neighbor. She is 31 years old and have 5 kids, one boy and four girls. Her son is living with her Mum, so she need to take care her four daughters. Her husband is working as laborer in construction company and she is selling many things in neighborhood to help her husband earning money for their living.

walking woman Her problem start when her eldest daughter Angeline is in Grade Six. Angeline at 12, start to skip classes and go with her friends. Sometimes she did not come home for 2-3 days. When she got home and the mother ask her where did she go she just answer in her friends house. It is always happening that the mother always angry about this. When she graduate in elementary, her mother ask her if she still want to go to school or she want to stop and go with her friends. Because the previous months she is always skipping classes and hang around with friends.

Angeline promise that she will change and she want to go to high school. The mother is worried that she will do again the same thing she has done: skipping classes and hang around with friends. The mother also worried about the financial situation. It is expensive to go in High School and if her daughter Angeline will stop she cannot take back the money she paid in school. The mother also go and seek help from one of the church here in our place so Angeline will become one of there scholar. She attend masses every Sunday, she stay in the church and work there in exchange that Angeline become scholar. It is a big help for the poor family that their daughter can go to school for free.

But sad to say, Angeline did not show sign that she wanted to change. She is still going out with her friends. One time, I see the girl wearing bandana (scarf) in her head. Everyday, she is passing in front of my house and as always, she is covering her head so I ask the mother why? She told me that her husband was so angry with the girl and he decided to cut Angeline's hair. Not just cut, he shave it hoping she will stay in the house if she is bald. But she never change. Her Mum want her to go to school to finish even her High School so she can find job in the future and if she want she can continue her studies. She take it all for granted. If she want to go even if they are watching her, she will go. She make the school as an excuse so she can go out. She wear school uniform but sometimes she did not go to school.

I learn from her Mum that she is going with the wrong set of friends. They are drinking, smoking and who knows what else they do. Because one time she did not come home for 3 days and nights and some barangay police come to Angeline's parents because she is in the police station since last night. When they arrived in police station they hear, that Angeline is one of the 15 teenager they caught in the house where the police raid because of drugs. The mother tell me she that at that time Angeline and some of the girls is in custody of DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development). That time the father want to shave her hair again to hold her in the house but the mother refused because the DSDW is monitoring the girl if she is still going to school. After few months, she start again going with her friends. And the mother caught her already smoking. She is really helpless what to do to her daughter.

I told her why not go to DSWD and ask them to help her. Maybe they can take the girl and put it under their custody since they are the right government agency. The mother replied to me that she do it already, she even pleaded for them to help her save Angeline's future who is slowly ruined because of her gang. But they say, Angeline still have parents and it is the parents obligation to take care her. I cannot understand it so I still ask the Mum: Even if it is already you who is asking help for your daughter? The mother said, Yes even it is me already who is asking, begging help from them. I don't know what else I can advice to her. I want to help but I don't know how. In other countries, especially in Hong Kong the government will take charge for the kids if the parents got the same problem like Angeline's mother. But this is not Hong Kong or other country. This is Philippines and the reality strikes me. I am here again, back in the Philippines.

My only hope is Angeline will realize soon, I hope very soon that she is very lucky to have parents like she have now. They are poor but like me they have big dreams too. They are striving hard to find means for their living and to send their children to school. I hope she can see that her mother is sacrificing herself because of her, hoping that someday she (Angeline) can have a better future. That is the ultimate dream of a parent to their children. I hope and I pray that sooner or later, Angeline will wake up and help her Mum to fulfill her dreams and make her happy. She is young and vulnerable in any temptation in her surroundings. In her young mind, she did not know that her kind of friends or gang did not do her any good. I don't know how long still Angeline's mother carry this burden in her shoulder. Time will tell.

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