Joyville and Bethany Children’s Homes 27/08/2009
by Sarah Kincaid
At the Joyville Children's Home, three hours outside the Capital City of Manila, Philippines, children of all ages, from different backgrounds and locations in the Philippines giggle and run joyfully around the grounds of this refuge they call home. During my visit at Joyville, along with the Summer Mission Team, the home administrator Captain Debbie Messenger took time to explain a bit about the children, the home, and the family atmosphere at Joyville. The stories she shared about how the children came to live at the home were humbling, emotional and encouraging. But the story of brothers Ronny and Alexis is the story that struck me the most.
A few years ago, Ronny, now over 18 years old, was sold into the hands of human traffickers. His family didn't know where he was or if he was safe or in danger. The Salvation Army rescued him from the situation and placed him in the Joyville Home. One of the objectives of the Joyville Home is to maintain or rebuild the relationships between the children and their families. After many efforts the home was able to connect with Ronny's family. As soon as Captain Debbie and Ronny docked on the beach of the remote island where Ronny was from, Captain Debbie spotted a Ronny ‘look-a-like' and knew they had found Ronny's family. As Ronny reconnected with his family, Captain Debbie started to learn more about this family and their situation. Alexis, the Ronny ‘look-a-like,' was indeed Ronny's younger brother. At the age of 13, Alexis had never been to school. Seeing the growth, development and future opportunities that existed through Ronny's life at the children's home, their mother agreed to allow Alexis to live at the home, too. Upon arriving at the home Alexis did something he had never done before in his life-put on his first pair of shoes. When Alexis put these foreign objects on his normally bare feet he had a difficult time stepping forward, almost as if the shoes were made of lead. It was unnatural to move with something so unfamiliar attached to his feet. But as Alexis continues to encounter new experiences and acquire skills, he also learns more about our Savior Jesus Christ, a promising future, and eternity that is in store for him and for the other beautiful children of the Joyville Children's Home!
Another location the Summer Mission Team and I were able to visit was the Bethany Children's Home in Manila, Philippines.
The Salvation Army Bethany Children's Home works and ministers among the sexually abused children ages 9-18 years old. The girls coming in are referred to The Salvation Army by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Local Government Unit and Regional Trial Court in Metro Manila. They are all victims of incestuous rape perpetrated either by their biological fathers or brothers, or victims of sexual molestation and rape by stepfathers, other relatives, grandfathers and neighbors. Most of the victims' parents have to work hard to sustain their daily living and leave their children at home where they are not safe. Some of the girls are from broken families.
These children have low self-esteem and unhealthy personal interactions resulting from their traumatic experiences. They are placed in the children's home for temporary shelter and protective custody because they have parents who can't ensure their protection, parents who are negative in thinking and unsupportive to the plight of the victims, or because they are at risk in the community where they are from.
These young girls have many needs that require much attention to enable them to grow normally and improve their self-image, regain self confidence and to help them formulate their values. Their needs come in various forms and degree. They include shelter, clothing, opportunities for emotional and intellectual development, the need to belong and spiritual needs such as aspiring for higher values and development as true Christians.
Initially upon meeting, the girls from the home were shy and uncertain about the American guests. But as the team made efforts to interact with them they warmed up quickly, holding hands and practicing the English they knew. Many giggles ensued along with dozens of pictures being taken with the girls.
Bethany Children's Home aspires to responsibly adapt its service to its client's psychosocial and physical needs.
Please lift up these girls and the staff of the home in your prayers!