In the Smokey Mountain area of Manila, tens of thousands of families rely on scavenging and recycling garbage for a living. Financial constraints, as well as a lack of educational and social support mean that many children are unable to complete their education, and in turn, are unable to break the cycle of poverty.
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One in every ten, or about 4 million Filipino children and youth are out-of-school, according to a survey conducted in 2013 by Functional Literacy, Education and Mass Media Survey (FLEMMS). This problem is intensified in the Smokey Mountain area where the average family income for a family of 5 is $5 USD/day, meaning that many families can’t afford to send their children to school, this being coupled with the limited government education facilities in the area.
With the closure of Manila’s infamous ‘Smokey Mountain’ in 1996 families were first moved to nearby purpose- built temporary housing before being relocated to permanent housing six years later. The temporary housing did not stay empty for long however, and it’s estimated that around 40,000 people now live in the ‘Smokey Mountain area’. With no proper sanitation facilities, conditions have seriously deteriorated since the nineties. Jobs range from scavenging for recyclable materials, to driving a rubbish truck.
Young Focus runs a day care center for malnourished 0 – 2 year olds, as well as a preschool to ensure children aged 3 – 5 have access to early education and care. This is combined with training for their parents in health, nutrition, hygiene and parenting skills.
In addition, Young Focus works with children aged 5 – 20 to make sure they are enrolled in the local schools and colleges, also providing after-school learning support at the Student Center. For those who have dropped out of school due to financial or family reasons, there are catch-up education programs to prepare elementary aged children for re-enrolment. For at-risk 15+ year olds, many of whom are abusing solvents and have never been to school, Young Focus has a center where they are given social support and guidance, leading to re-enrolment into education or jobs.
Young Focus International was initiated in the Netherlands in 1992 by a Dutch/English couple Paul and Ann van Wijgerden. The newly formed organization financed educational and aid programs of a partner organization in the Philippines for the young people living on and around the garbage dump of Manila (Smokey Mountain).
Click here and read more about the background of Young Focus - from 1992 up to the present day
Young Focus International expanded and established itself in the Philippines as a new local entity: Young Focus for Education and Development. It slowly began to develop its own programs in order to have a greater impact and better results with the school sponsorship programs. In the beginning only 2 full-time staff were running the organization in the Philippines. Some industrial units were rented and used as a Student Center with facilities such as: a computer room, study room and library, workshop/ classrooms and a central office for the organization.
A Child Care Center was built on the garbage dump ‘Smokey Mountain 2’ where malnourished babies received nutrition and care.
A large donation was given from the Netherlands and a dream came true when Young Focus inaugurated a new 4-floor Student Center at the end of 2011, the center providing rooms and facilities for most of the programs as well as an office area.
Another center was built on the garbage dump, and used as a kindergarten and training room for social and health care programs.
The local authorities started the demolition of ‘Smokey Mountain 2’. People had to move to other shelters in the area or were relocated just outside the city of Manila. Our beneficiaries were not allowed to live on the garbage dump anymore, but could still scavenge where garbage was dumped. Recycling and charcoal making remained a source of income for many.
The two Young Focus centers on the garbage dump (center for malnourished children and a kindergarten) were taken down and a new and bigger center was rebuild nearby.
Young Focus opened a center for older school-dropouts and street youth
A 3-floor building was purchased to accommodate the growing number of preschool children and sponsored students. Since the start of Young Focus in the Philippines in 2007, a steady growth has taken place within the organization. 40 full-time staff oversee the different programs of Young Focus with a total of 1,000 children in the different educational programs.
Mission & Vision
Click here and read the Vision and Mission statements
Young Focus’ vision is to improve the mental, physical and social well-being of young people in poor communities by means of education, health care and personal support.
Young Focus gives underprivileged children and young people the chance to develop themselves intellectually, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually by means of education and personal coaching.
Young Focus wants to see young people developing their (hidden) talents and gifts and, in doing so, escape the vicious circle of poverty. Young Focus gives a brighter future to children from poverty-stricken families in the Philippines. In order to be as effective as possible, Young Focus works directly with the children in their own environment.
Board of Directors in the Philippines:
Paul van Wijgerden (Interim Chairman)
Loreto Jose Dapon (Treasurer)
Elizabeth Yu (Secretary)
Suneil Bharwani (Board member)
Karen Weber (Board member)
Board of Directors in the Netherlands:
Erwin Hietland (Treasurer)
Anne Tensen (Secretary)
Holger Liesendahl (Board member)
Karen Weber (Board member)
Firetree Asia Foundation is a Public Charity in the USA. Firetree is a close partner of Young Focus and invests in further development of all programs.
For more information about Firetree and the partnership of Firetree and Young Focus, click here.
Armed with knowledge and experience, the company develops all manner of practical and innovative solutions for the agribusiness sector. In doing so, Intracare contributes toward the performance of the agricultural business community.
Intracare has been a partner for many years. Through their partnership Young Focus could initiate Fair Jewelry and develop the Child Care PLUS (preschool). Intracare has also provided means of transportation for Young Focus.
For more information see Intracare’s website
Verizon connects people, companies and communities with their network technology.
Verizon connects people, companies and communities with their network technology. Verizon also aims to make a positive impact on society. From working to improve education and healthcare to evolving their own sustainable business practices, they share their success with the community. Read more about Verizon in Manila here.
Verizon also has a call center in the Philippines. They have been part of Young Focus for some years, have donated a van, and they give our children opportunities to be involved in sports.
‘Groevenbeek’ is a Dutch high school that has been partnering very closely with Young Focus. They are sponsoring a significant number of students from high school all the way to college.
In addition, over the last few years several ‘Groevenbeek’ students have come to the Philippines as part of a student exchange program, and Young Focus high school and college students have visited the Netherlands. This exchange program has had an amazingly positive impact on the Dutch and Filipino students involved.
The founders Esther & Silvius Dornier run a foundation in Germany with the main focus on scholarships for gifted students in a boarding school.
Their involvement with Young Focus has been the provision of scholarships for a number of students from the Smokey Mountain area.
See their (German) website for more information on Young Focus.
Church Simplified is a church community based in Metro Manila, Philippines – composed of people from various backgrounds.
Church Simplified has a close partnership with Young Focus. In many ways the church expresses support practically as well as financially.
Surf to www.churchsimplified.com for more information on Church Simplified.
A global leader in insurance and investments, AXA takes care of 103 million lives in 59 countries worldwide. Read here more about AXA in Manila.
In the Philippines AXA has been supporting Young Focus by providing educational and recreational opportunities for our elementary and Love2Learns students.
MicroSourcing specializes in setting up, hosting, and managing offshore operations in the Philippines on behalf of clients from all over the world. MicroSourcing’s CSR arm extends job opportunities to disadvantaged youth. Young Focus has several college graduates who have undergone special training and have been absorbed in the outsourcing sector. See website.
The PJ Lhuillier Group of Companies (PJLGC) is a company that owns and operates businesses dealing with financial services such as pawning, remittance, microinsurance, and business to business micro loan solutions.
Cabana Lhuiller helps Young Focus with construction efforts in our present Student Center as well as sports activities during our camps. See website.
“Hello there! My name is Catriona and I’m a creative mind living in the beautiful islands the Philippines. Here on my blog, I write and document my ceaseless wanderlust and creative pursuits around the world. Welcome to Cat’elle: http://cat-elle.com”
Catriona’s advocacy is to promote Young Focus through her Paraiso, The Bright Beginnings Project. Check it out: http://cat-elle.com/paraiso/
Young Focus partners with various organizations, schools and companies who all express their appreciation financially or through other ways of support.
Thanks to all of you here below:
Young Focus support group in Canada and in England at the ACS International School Cobham Surrey, The Bridge School Paranaque City, International School Manila, British School Manila, Manila Cub Scouts Pack #351, KLM Philippines, Makulay, Messy Bessy, Smash Balloon, U! Happy Events, AIESEC, Project Pearls, PCF and many others!