By ROEL PAREÑO
The Philippine Star
ZAMBOANGA CITY — Street children here have shifted and reinvented themselves to cope with the trying times from street begging to scrap collecting, which officials described as gauge of a competing economy even between the less privileged sector.
The case was discovered by Vice Mayor Ma. Isabel Climaco as she was prompted to convene the Council on the Welfare of Children to discuss long term measures on how to address the continued problem and increasing figures of street children.
Climaco is of the belief that the street children problem, which is even worse in other towns, needs to be attended to.
Climaco said surveys and studies from a non-government organization showed that the city has listed about, or more than 1,000 street children wandering in different streets here.
The observation has already reached the American soil, according to Climaco lamenting that a travel guidebook she got across in one of the bookstores in Washington, D described Zamboanga City as a "city of beggars and street children, with little hope of progress."
Climaco who did not agree with the observation as there are more appalling cases in other urban cities across the country, however, took the challenge in addressing the problem.
Climaco was in the US for her 21-day scholarship grant dubbed as International Visitor Leadership Program themed "Grassroots Democracy" last Nov. 11-12 along with two other recipients from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
But with the reinventing of the street children from merely begging to scrap collecting, the official said there’s a "sign of these less fortunate people to grow decently" while efforts in helping the minors are being asserted by the local government.
She said the city is now making contacts with the different scrap buying stations to help the street children.
"Aside from earning decently, this endeavor is giving them dignity," Climaco said, even as she appealed to residents to dispose the plastics of bottled water and other similar plastic containers, instead of throwing them anywhere.
"These scraps and plastic bottles means income and food for them," she added.
However, Climaco said the case must not stop seeing the street children earning even as she said that the problem is a complex one that needs the help of multi-government agencies.