Children In-Conflict with the Law need utmost love
Haydee, 47 years old, works as a House Parent in the CICL Center in Estancia, Iloilo
Estancia, Iloilo – Not long ago, Haydee gambled her fate in Manila to find a job. She used to be a peacekeeping and security volunteer in their community. However, being a volunteer with a minimal honorarium pay wasn’t enough. She needed to find a regular job to support his husband in paying their family’s expenses, especially their children’s education.
She found a job in Manila but it was difficult for the 47-year-old mother because it was the first time that she was away from home. When staff from her hometown’s social welfare office contacted her to work for them, she didn’t hesitate to accept it. She came back home and started her job last October as a House Parent in the Children In-Conflict with the Law (CICL) Center of the Municipal Social Welfare Department Office (MSWDO).
Her task is to serve as guardian to children who are housed in the center on a short-term basis. These children are held by authorities because of crimes such as theft and violence. While being held, their cases are being processed by the social welfare office. Authorities also detained some of them because they were seen roaming in the streets beyond curfew time.
For Haydee, the work is quite challenging because she sometimes works beyond duty hours and during the weekend. Interacting with children who have different personalities – some are emotionally troubled – adds weight to the daunting task. There were also times that some of the children tried to escape from the center. She once caught one child who managed to climb her way through the ceiling and crawled inside.
Haydee secures the gate in the CICL center after checking the rooms of the children.
Despite the challenges in her work, Haydee still brings her patience and understanding to these children. “I treat them like they are my own kids,” she shares. “I understand why they committed the crimes. Some of them are orphans. They were hungry and they don’t have a family to come home to. They had no choice but to steal,” she adds.
To those children who are not orphans, Haydee shares that the authorities go after the parents and remind them about their responsibilities.
When asked on how she helps these children prevent in committing the crimes again, she shares that the children need to feel that they are loved and understood. “They lack affection and support from their family. They are also deprived of their basic needs. When you give that to them and advise them about good values, there is always a big chance that they will change their ways,” says Haydee.
Haydee helps Pia (not her real name) finish her coloring book. The child was detained because of theft.
On the Lowering of the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility proposed Bill, Haydee disagrees. She mentions that not all areas in the country have proper youth care facilities, like what they have in Estancia. According to the data from Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council (JJWC), there are only 63 rehabilitation centers nationwide.
Still, Haydee looks forward to a future where CICL centers are no longer relevant because children and the youth are well guided. For now, the house parent does her part by showing parental love to CICLs.
Written by Mong Jimenez, World Vision / February 14, 2019