I was riding a jeep on my way to work the other day when a kid entered, distributing white envelopes to each passenger. Apart from the telltale makeshift drum that he’s carrying, I learned that he’s a Badjao because it was written in his envelope, “Tulungan niyo ako. Kami ay Badjao.” Most people will pretend that they didn’t see or hear anything. A few will give the spare change they have, but I think this is not a good intervention because it will only aggravate begging on the streets.
Giving them food might be a better option. I know of someone who carries a pack of biscuits in his car specifically for street children. But really, how often does one carry a spare snack?
Here’s another alternative. Starting last January, at the end of every day, I gather all the five peso coins that I have and save them in a jar. Come December 31st, I’ll donate everything that I saved to a credible NGO or foundation that supports migrant youth. I got this idea from another friend who’s also a development worker.
Even though the first quarter of the year is about to end, you can still start this practice. Think of an advocacy that you’re willing to support because it will motivate you to consciously gather as many five peso coins during the day. Let’s say on a daily average, you save fifteen pesos. That’s already 5,475 after a year. Now imagine giving that amount to one street kid (through a credible foundation).
Everyday alms giving as support for these kids is detrimental to their development cause they might only buy cigarettes, drugs or unhealthy snacks with the money they get. Worse, these kids might be objects to funnel “charity” into the hands of criminal syndicates. If given in bulk to credible NGOs, there’s a brighter possibility that the money will be used to support education or health related projects to support their needs. Every five peso coin can be a humble contribution to having one less Badjao kid in the streets of Manila.