Metro Manila is a massive, crowded city. Some estimates put the population at over 21 million, but the population density is more than double that of New York City. In the city's barangays — or slum communities — it is not uncommon for families of ten or more members to live together in less than 200 square feet of living space. Malnutrition in the Philippines is staggering, with many children showing up to school on empty stomachs. Poverty, spurred by widespread unemployment, is endemic in Manila. Even skilled adults or those with higher education struggle to find jobs, and when they do find employment, it's often unskilled, temporary work with low pay. Mothers and fathers may be forced to leave their children for long durations to find work in neighboring cities, leaving children vulnerable to neglect or exploitation. Stigma against unwed pregnancy also compels many women to relinquish their babies for adoption. But thanks to Holt donors, children and families are receiving help to start small businesses, send their children to daycare and continue their education.
Provinces with Holt family strengthening programs
Provinces with Holt orphan care programs
Provinces from which children can join families through adoption
Families in the Philippines often struggle to afford even the most basic necessities, like food, public transportation, adequate housing and healthcare. To help families grow stable and equipped to independently care for their children, Holt donors and sponsors often focus on helping women gain job skills to start small businesses. Through daycare programs, Holt donors also ensure children have safe places to stay while their parents work during the day.
In the Philippines, as in many countries, violence against women and stigma against unwed mothers compels many women to relinquish their children. Poverty, untreated mental health issues and addiction also force some families to abandon their children. Some children enter orphanages due to their parents’ incarceration, while other children enter care after being accidentally separated from their families during migration or getting lost in crowded, urban areas.
While the Philippines is considered quite developed in comparison to other countries in South and Southeast Asia, there is still a huge population of vulnerable children and families who struggle every day. In my travels to the Philippines, I've seen how families, especially in urban areas, struggle to meet their children's most basic needs such as food and education. And social stigma for single mothers contributes greatly to the level of vulnerability for their children — increasing the risk of abandonment and relinquishment. For these children, we focus on finding permanent, loving families either in the Philippines or the United States. To strengthen families on the verge of separation, we work with Kaisahang Buhay Foundation to offer life-changing services such as educational and nutritional support, counseling for young mothers, community-based support groups and financial education. Ultimately, these services help strengthen struggling families and keep children with their birth families. But this is only possible because of the generous individuals who also have a heart for these vulnerable children and families in the Philippines. Please contact me about how you can be involved in this meaningful work.
There are so many ways for you to help orphaned children and families living in impoverished communities in the Philippines.