Philippines: DSWD, MM Mayors Spouses, and Ricky Reyes Foundation launch Tulong Para sa Batang MindaNOW project

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The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in partnership with the Metro Manila Mayors Spouses Foundation (MMMSF) and the Ricky Reyes Foundation, Inc. (RRFI) yesterday launched a project for the benefit of the children-victims of armed conflict in Mindanao. This was held at the DSWD central office, Quezon City.

During the launch of the project dubbed "Tulong Para sa Batang MindaNOW," Secretary Esperanza I. Cabral was joined by (from left) Undersecretary Luwalhati F. Pablo, MMMSF members Ms. Purificacion Echiverri of Caloocan, Ms. Guia Gomez of San Juan City, RRFI president Mader Ricky Reyes, Undersecretaries Alicia R. Bala and Celia C. Yangco.

According to Secretary Cabral, the project aims to make the children in Mindanao happy, especially this coming Christmas season.

Ms. Gomez said that she hopes the project will create unity inspite of diversity among the Filipinos, while Ms. Echiverri said she believes that the children deserve a better future.

Mader Ricky, on the other hand, said that the project will instill the culture of sharing and inculcate good values among Filipinos.

Drop-off centers in all the public elementary schools in Metro Manila will be put up where children can give their gifts for other children starting this week until November 30, 2008.

By December, all the donated gifts from the various public elementary schools in Metro Manila will be collected by the RRFI, while the DSWD will distribute these to children staying in the evacuation centers in Mindanao.

It will be recalled that the first tie-up project of the DSWD, MMMSF and RRFI in cooperation with GMA 7 was the "Sing for Me" project for children in conflict with the law.

"This year, our focus are the children who are caught in armed conflict situation, such as those who are currently victims of the conflict situation in Mindanao," Secretary Cabral disclosed.

Secretary Cabral added that, "These children are victims of the armed conflict whether they are on one side or the other. They are inadvertently caught in this conflict situation not knowing what it is all about, not knowing why they have to run, not knowing why they have to live in tents rather than in their own houses, and not knowing who will feed them the next day."

Secretary Cabral expressed that the partnership will bring smiles and gladness to the hearts of some 40,000 children-victims of armed conflict staying in the evacuation centers in Mindanao.

Meanwhile, mader Ricky Reyes encouraged giving non-violent toys, dolls, activity books, coloring pens, and school supplies, among others.