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Homeless find home in Cebu City gyms, in need of donations

By: Delta Dyrecka Letigio - Reporter/CDN Digital | April 08,2020 - 07:41 PM

Homeless individuals from Cebu City are now staying at the Barangay San Nicolas Gym being helped by members of the Cebu City Government. | Gerard Francisco

CEBU CITY, Philippines — When the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Cebu City began on March 28, 2020, the roads were cleared of people and vehicles.

But the homeless stayed in their place, very visible amidst the loss of the crowd.

At that time, the Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS) did not have any place to take them to and tried to encourage them to return to their towns.

To no avail.

Around a week after the ECQ was implemented, two central downtown barangays opened up their gyms to welcome the homeless including Barangays San Nicolas and San Roque.

The gyms of the two barangays now house more than 300 homeless individuals living in spacious evacuation tents and being fed with meals three times a day.

Councilor Jessica Resch, the president of the Sangguniang Kabataan Federation in the city, told CDN Digital that it took time for them to find a barangay to host the homeless.

“Actually it was very hard to look for a vacant gym as of now because most of the barangays, they used their gyms for rice storage, relief goods and for their command center as they distribute the rice. I’m very thankful that we have two barangays who welcomed the street dwellers and which understood their situations and keep the dwellers safe,” said Resch.

The DSWS said the homeless are maintained by private donors such as the Aboitiz Foundation and well-meaning individuals.

Resch said there are many donations coming in such as food, but she said what the street dwellers need are beds or banig, pillows, blankets, towels, and clothes.

Hygiene kits are also needed including soap, shampoo, toothbrush, and toothpaste.

Most of all, Resch said the street dwellers need medicine for the kids who may have persistent illnesses.

DSWS head, Doctor Jeffrey Ybones, told CDN Digital that the two gyms would be the home for these individuals until the ECQ is lifted, but they will not stop there.

The goal of DSWS is to ensure these families will return to their hometowns so they will no longer have to live on the streets.

“Hopefully mapauli na nato na sila before mahuman ang ECQ. (Hopefully we can get them home before the ECQ ends),” said Ybones.

For those who wish to donate necessities to the street dwellers, they can send their donations directly to the Barangay San Nicolas and Barangay San Roque gyms.  /rcg

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