The Philippines is a home of hospitable, smiling, and happy people. However, out of its more than 100 million population, about 4.5 million are homeless, which is a sign of growling poverty. The World’s Big Sleep Out (WBSO) is an international advocacy campaign aiming to help in reducing, if not eradicating, homelessness in the world. Cebu, together with Manila, is set to join this charitable and noble cause.
Homelessness is not just a sign of poverty. It also demonstrates the possibility of dangers on the streets where crimes, such as robbery, human trafficking, and child abuse, might occur.
There are many reasons why families become homeless. Some of the causes of this problem are demolition, fire, migration (in this case, from the province to the city), war, earthquake, flood, and plain poverty.
The government should be the first institution to protect and save its people from homelessness and poverty. Republic Act 7279 Article 1, Sec. 2 declares, “It shall be the policy of the State to undertake, in cooperation with the private sector, a comprehensive and continuing Urban Development and Housing Program.” The provision follows that the government should “uplift the conditions of the underprivileged and homeless citizens in urban areas and in resettlement areas by making available to them decent housing at affordable cost, basic services, and employment opportunities.”
In the current administration, housing programs are led by the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and are financially supported by the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC).
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has been reported to say that various government agencies have different roles in addressing homelessness, such as:
- Strong implementation of the barangay code (DILG)
- Clear programs for the education of the street children (DepEd)
- Extend Philhealth coverage to street families (DOH)
- Provide livelihood programs (DOLE)
- Reconsider the qualifications for housing assistance (NHA)
The local governments of Manila and Cebu have been reached out to support the Big Sleep Out on December 7, 2019. It’s up to the designated officials on how they are going to respond in this global call to fight homelessness.
To further the developments and make the programs keep moving, charity organizations have been actively working with the government and other organizations. WBSO is joined by two religious and philanthropic organizations: Vincentian Foundation and Spring Rain Global.
Vincentian Foundation is a religious charity institution helping children and women with the following mission:
- Facilitate people-centered development that mobilizes people through community-led approaches and practices;
- Develop programs relevant to the needs of the community;
- Maximize human and material resources of the people in addressing community development issues; and,
- Build partnerships and collaborations with different stakeholders.
On the other hand, Spring Rain Global is an international consulting firm helping non-profit organizations to connect with donors. They help in creating a donor database system for beneficiaries and ensuring that charities are receiving the needed funds.
The World’s Big Sleep Out is a global movement committed to raising $50,000,000.00 from 50 cities around the globe to help approximately 1,000,000 homeless people who are displaced due to war, disaster, and poverty.
This global initiative is started by Josh Littlejohn. They have started the movement in Scotland where they have gathered 9,000 participants to experience homelessness for a night in solidarity for the homeless brothers and sisters. It is also joined by international celebrities, such as the award-winning Hollywood actor, Will Smith; the Academy Award winner for Best Actress in “The Queen,” Dame Helen Mirren; and, singer, songwriter, and philanthropist, Chris Martin.
This advocacy is connected to many charity organizations worldwide where the funds will be distributed for sustainable home developments. Some of the groups supporting this advocacy are the Institute for Global Homelessness (IGH), UNICEF USA, Malala Fund, and Social Bite.
On November 12, 2019, 888 News Forum invited Vincentian Foundation and Spring Rain Global for a press conference at Marco Polo Plaza Cebu to introduce and discuss the WBSO campaign.
Cebu City is one of the progressing metropolitans in the Philippines, especially when it comes to real estate. And yet, the city is also lived by multiple homeless families. Particularly, you can see them in front of Santo Rosario Church, University of San Carlos (Main), Philippine Christian Gospel School, Velez Hospital, Robinsons Fuente (in both overpasses), DOH Region 7, and in different places. A big group of homeless locals can also be seen inside the vicinity of CICC in front of Park Mall.
The World’s Big Sleep Out is planned to be organized in Cebu City Sports Complex on December 7, 2019. The oval is said to contain about 12 thousand people. If that figure will be reached, it could surpass the first Big Sleep Out in Scotland attended by 9 thousand game-changers. The fact is that WBSO Philippines is only aiming 3,000 attendees both from Cebu and Manila. The Quezon City Circle will be the place of gathering for the participants in Luzon.
As the first city in the country, Cebu has a big part in the history of the whole archipelago. If Cebuanos and the Visayan neighbors can reach 12,000 life-changers, we will leave a mark in the world as a hope giver for our homeless next-door-neighbors.
From the words of the founder, Josh Littlejohn: “We are a small, interconnected world. By collectively sacrificing our beds for one cold night we can reach out a hand of compassion and solidarity with those who need it most – homeless people on our doorsteps and refugees internationally.”
If you want to help, please do so by donating here or by going to WBSO’s website to join a sleep out. If you want to help in promotion and advertising, you can follow and share the posts from WBSO PH‘s Facebook Page or JP Abecilla – The Millennial Writer‘s Facebook Page. There is no big or small contribution. Anything that you can do for the less fortunate is enough to reduce poverty and give hope for the homeless. Let God be glorified in this noble cause.