Toto’s Redemption

By John and Gela Basiwa, Manila Children’s Home

Ten-year-old Toto* was angry when he showed up at the Manila Children’s Home (MCH) three years ago. So angry, in fact, that he fought with the other boys and even his own siblings. At one point, Toto got ahold of a knife and threatened another boy.

Then, he ran away. Perhaps this street kid was beyond saving, beyond hope.

Eventually Toto returned to the MCH and began a journey. After months of silently receiving unconditional love, Toto finally opened up and shared his secrets.

Toto told us that his mom was a prostitute. His father, from a distant province, was a heavy drinker and unable to find work because of poor health and little education.

After hurricane Ondoy destroyed their meager home and possessions in 2009, Toto, his three half-siblings and his dad ended up on the streets. At night they slept inside a tomb at a local cemetery, although Toto preferred sleeping on the streets because it was less scary (no ghosts!).

“My heart would break when I visited him at the tomb,” said John Basiwa, MCH co-director. “This lifestyle pushed him to live like the other street kids. He joined a gang and sniffed glue. He snatched bags and cell phones. He also was hit by a car and had to escape from the hospital because his family couldn’t pay.

“Toto was caught stealing and sent to a government home, where he was abused. He thought we (our staff) would do the same to him. It took months to gain his trust.”

Scholastically, Toto was three grades behind his peers. Sadly, his story is typical for thousands of street kids. That’s why ER decided the best way to help Filipinos is to create life-long impact by rescuing street kids and caring for them in the Manila Children’s Home.

After three years in the MCH, 13-year-old Toto has responded to the staff’s kindness and counseling. Here, Toto is part of our family. In fact, he is now a loving caregiver to the younger boys. He looks out for them. Toto respects our staff and has a great future ahead of him. His trust issues and personality have changed 180 degrees.

According to Gela Basiwa, Toto excels in math and has won awards, medals and certificates at Soldier’s Hills Elementary School. He respects our staff and has a great future ahead of him. He has dreams and determinations.

Because of his unrelenting perseverance and determination, along with the support of our staff, Toto has achieved high grades averaging 89%, resulting in receiving a first honorable mention in his class. On top of that, he was accelerated from grade 2 to grade 5.

ER is in the process of purchasing the MCH to assure the boys will have a secure home for years to come. Would you consider helping us purchase the home and take more kids off the streets? To donate in the U.S., click here. To donate in Canada, click here. Please designate your gift “MCH Purchase”.

*Toto is a pseudonym to protect his privacy.