Abtanan sa Kaluoy: An oasis of mercy for street children in Cebu
CEBU CITY, Philippines — By the time he learned how to walk, Ben (not his real name) had the streets as his home.
“Libud-suroy ko sa kadalanan. (I am a street kid),” the 14-year-old boy said.
Since his parents were poor, his two siblings were entrusted to a nun while another was under the care of his aunt.
Ben, who roams around the streets of Cebu City, had one, important wish: “Gusto ko na dunay matawag nga balay. (I want to have something I can call home).”
His prayer was answered on Tuesday as the Archdiocese of Cebu opened the “Abtanan sa Kaluoy” or Oasis of Mercy where street children are being taken cared of.
Located in the compound of the St. Joseph the Patriarch Parish in Barangay Mabolo, Cebu City, the activity center serves as a space where street children have a place to shower, study, eat, and play. Medical and dental as well as listening and counselling services, and late registration of live birth are also available.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma said the Abtanan sa Kaluoy was one of the fruits of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) which was held in Cebu in January 2016.
He thanked the Italian Bishops’ Conference for funding the project.
“We are very grateful and happy. Indeed, we know the IEC bore fruits through this project so we can take care of God’s little ones, our street children,” said Palma in his homily during the Mass held at the activity centre.
“This is not just a building but a center where our plans and programs for street children take place. They should not be left on the streets but should grow in wisdom and age. This building is for you and we are your family,” he added.
Fr. Carmelo Diola, executive director of the Abtanan sa Kaluoy, said that the four-storey building cost P60 million to build.
Joining Palma in blessing the building were Bishop Carlo Bresciani of the Diocese of San Benedetto del Tronto-Ripatransone-Montalto in Italy; Cebu Auxiliary Bishop Dennis Villarojo; Fr. Carmelo Diola, the executive director of the Abtanan sa Kaluoy, and around 15 priests./dbs
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