Empower by 4P is the name of our work in the slums of Tondo, Manila. In total around 20 million people live in the slum areas in The Philippines, and Tondo is one of the worlds´s most densely populated areas with around 80.000 people per kvm2. Our work received the name «Empower by 4P because our aim is to strengthen people to help themselves, instead of making people dependent on our help. That´s why we focus on working preventively, teaching, increasing the number of kids and teens who finish their education, and tailor our support according to each individual’s needs.
Our goal and purpose is that people over time can get a better life outside the slum. Our work is twofold; «Mercy-team» consists of a leader, a social worker, a nurse, a midwife and an assistant, and is our operational work in the slum. The other part is «Education», which offers sponsorship programs and various forms of education and activities for children and young people, as well as their parents. This team consists of a teacher, assistant, kitchen help, in addition to help from the employees in «Mercy-team».
Sponsorprogram: Through our sponsor program vi support more than 100 students with schooling. The students are different ages, some of the ones we support are in the first grade, others in high school. Even though education in public schools are cost-free, the students need school supplies, school uniforms and other things. Most of our students get a packed lunch every day, which is prepared daily and available for pick-up at our offices just outside the slum areas «Happyland» and «Aroma». This gives us the opportunity to make sure that the kids go to school and pay home visits to those that for different reasons don´t show up. To the student who don´t have a birth certificate we also help them get one. It´s a long and time-consuming process, that is necessary to get school papers as well as a job later in life.
JAM: JAM is our after-school program for third to sixth graders. JAM is arranged both in the morning and in the afternoon since the student’s school schedule varies. JAM´s goal is to create bonds between the kids and the adults, as well as give them the opportunity to play, sing, and talk. Slum areas offer many less constructive activities so we want to encourage the kids to grow as individuals and make the feel wanted and appreciated in a safe environment.
Young generation: Young Generation is an activity program for young people from the age of twelve and upwards. In YG we prioritize activities, often outside Tondo, so they experience more of Manila and give room and nutrition to their individual hopes and dreams. A good relationship to each teenager, through conversation and keeping up with their everyday life is important so the teens grow, mature, and make good and well-considered life choices. In addition, we have teach different subjects relevant for the teenagers and their life situation.
Tutorials: Tutorials offers reading and writing help to first and second graders, since public schools expect the kids to read and write before they start school. Kids who have yet to learn this often tend to fall behind.
Fieldwork: Fieldwork is about medical and practical support. We offer sponsoring of medicine if needed, as well as vitamins and infant formula. If there are families in crisis, we also hand out rice as well as other food. We conduct conversations, give care and practical advice, treat wounds and facilitate transport to hospitals, health stations or doctor we cooperate with.
Our employees are trained to work with people who are affected by tuberculosis. They have their own programs and collaboration agreements for the detection and follow-up of TB patients. We work with hospitals and other organizations to carry out operations and medical admissions when needed.
Preventive seminars: We teach regularly in various areas of the slum, some are open to all residents. We address various topics such as health, tuberculosis, hygiene and family planning. The theme is chosen based on the needs we see through our field work, as well as in collaboration with local leaders and residents.
Marriage course: In order to prevent divorce, and to help people who want to improve their close relationships, we conduct marriage courses as needed. We´ve experienced that these courses are a good way to show a father’s importance in a child´s upbringing. Both as a caregiver and as a participant in family and child education.
Mothers seminar: We organize longer seminars for future mothers and mothers of toddlers. It is a big problem in the slums that children are born in the slums and welcomed by women who do not have the education or the qualifications to act as midwives. We therefore carry out, approx. 4 times a year, a two months course on children’s development before and after childbirth, breastfeeding, follow-up in hospitals, parenthood, birth control and more.
As a motivation to give birth in a hospital, the mothers get sponsored 50% of the cost of a «newborn screening», a starter kit with baby equipment and a graduation party with a diploma. For many, this is the only diploma they have received in their lives, and it means a lot to many of them to complete such a course. One advantage of giving birth in a hospital is that the children are issued a birth certificate free of charge and automatically, which is extremely time-consuming and expensive to get afterwards. Another advantage is that the risk of death and complications are greatly reduced for both mother and child.
Out of the slums: Most of the families that live in the slums in Manila have family and roots in the provinces outside the big city. Many of them came to Manila hoping for a better life and opportunities to make money. Instead they ended up in the slum areas without a real chance to get home. When there are families who have the opportunity to go back and start over where they came from, we help out practically and economically to make it happen.
A new home: Although we mainly wish to help families cope better together, we sometimes come across children living under such poor conditions that there is a great danger to their life and health. In these cases, we first try to cooperate with the parents so we can place their children elsewhere. This is usually with other families or with different organizations and may apply for a certain period of time or permanently.
In cases where children are suffering and it’s impossible to cooperate for various reasons, it is our responsibility to contact the local social security authorities (DSWD) and report cases. DSWD then assess the situation, and in such cases the children are mainly moved to various organizations that run homes for children. The Rejoice Children’s Home is one such home, we have a little over thirty children living with us that mostly come from these areas in Tondo.