PASIG City, Aug. 16, 2016 – A foundation, which helps transition homeless kids off the streets, recently marked its 18th anniversary with the unexpected gift of getting its Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) accreditation.
Tulay ng Kabataan, to which Pope Francis paid an unexpected visit last January 2015 when he was in the Philippines, is now recognized as a legitimate non-government organization to which the DSWD may now refer cases.
“This year, I would say our best achievement is getting accredited by DSWD… Before it was so hard to get accredited,” shared Gil Sarmiento, head of the TNK’s streetchildren program, which comprises 17 centers in Intramuros, Manila and Kalayaan Avenue, Quezon City for abandoned and homeless minors.
As representatives from a newly-accredited DSWD partner organization, TNK staff paid courtesy calls to mayors, barangay officials, and Philippine National Police outposts after the said accreditation of 15 out of 17 of its centers for streetchildren.
“Almost every week there are referrals that come in. We’ve helped so many… Our help has really been extended [since the accreditation],” shared Sarmiento, who mans a team of nearly 100 psychologists, social workers, street educators, and staff.
According to Sarmiento, TNK’s 18th anniversary theme “Soar High” could not be more fitting as the charity, which is chaired by Caritas Internationalis president Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, aims to expand several of its programs within the year.
Sarmiento said, an additional center for male streetchildren, Residential 6; another center for toddlers; as well as a center for abandoned or homeless elderly are being eyed before the year ends.
More to come
According to Sarmiento, who has been working with the foundation for 14 years now, his hope for TNK is for it to keep on garnering support.
“What I really hope to happen to the foundation [is that] it continues. Because we know what is happening to the country. Until now, there are a lot of streetchildren who need help. That’s why I hope the help keeps on coming, the help from benefactors,” said Sarmiento in Filipino.
Beneficiaries, donors, supporters, friends, and members of the media attended a Mass celebrated by TNK executive director Fr. Matthieu Dauchez on Aug. 14, 9 a.m. at the EDSA Shrine to celebrate the anniversary. A simple debut-themed program, featuring dances and singing, followed at the nearby San Pedro Poveda College.
Founded in 1998, TNK currently has three programs to alleviate the effects of poverty, hunger, and abuse: streetchildren program, the scavengers’ program, and the slum program. (Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz / CBCPNews)