Picture: Catherine Aubry
Like all the children who are taken in by the Stairway Foundation, Joseph was living on the street. He’s already seen and experienced a lot more unhappiness than other children his age. But now, although his voice breaks as he tells his story, he can view his future with assurance.
Joseph remembers growing up in a family where fights and arguments were an everyday occurrence. Poverty and violence were his lot in life, just like having an empty stomach. His father was a drug dealer and his mother was in jail for robbery. One day, the boy decided that life on the street couldn’t be any worse and ran away from home. By the age of 13, Joseph was an accomplished beggar, getting money for food. He learned to stay a step ahead of the police and avoid the many dangers that constantly lie in wait for street kids. Finally, he was arrested and sent to Stairway.
Joseph soon got involved at various levels, helping others with their schoolwork and even leading workshops. At last he had access to books – and he’s such an enthusiastic reader that he’s even been made librarian at the centre. Most of all, Joseph wants to go back to school. He’s now preparing for the ministerial exams so he can get into the regular school system.
The Stairway Foundation works with the most vulnerable and marginalized filipino children in society, especially victims of “sex tourism,” sexual exploitation or child pornography. The children stay at the rehabilitation centre from one to three years – long enough to rebuild their lives. Stairway takes care of their medical, nutritional, therapeutic and educational needs, as well as professional training. The LÉGER FOUNDATION’s contribution helps Stairway to reach more kids and develop innovative and productive projects that support the centre. Stairway helps the children to develop fully, notably by learning about theatre arts, which helps with the healing process for young victims of abuse. They’ve also developed Break the Silence, a unique work methodology designed to protect vulnerable youth from sex abuse in Asia. The LÉGER FOUNDATION has also overseen the implementation of the same approach in Nepal.
Joseph’s time with the Stairway Foundation has expanded his world, offering possibilities he would never have known about otherwise. No wonder the boy’s eyes light up when he speaks about the place he lives now.
To make a donation: 514 495-2409 / 1 877 288-7383 /