Programs we offer
"When you connect to the heart of a child, everything is possible"
- Dr. Karyn Purvis
Children's Recovery Unit (CRU)
Having a sick child in the family creates an immediate crisis situation for most families. When the illness is critical, families tend to go into panic mode and if the family is living in poverty, then their fears are even more heightened because they are aware that they do not have the financial resources to see them through this crisis. Working in a local hospital for years gave us the chance to watch and learn how families respond to illness and life altering disabilities that result from it. Families quickly resorted to despair and easily gave up on their children because of poverty and learned hopelessness. Kids that could have made it, died because families didn’t fight for them. We realized that it wasn’t because they didn’t WANT to but rather because often they felt ill equipped to fight. Mainly, it was financial reasons. They had such limited resources that when forced to choose, they chose to spend their money feeding the healthy kids who remained at home. Sometimes it was a distance related issue. The children couldn’t physically be brought to the hospital for treatments because the families lived so incredibly far away from the hospital and transportation and costs made it impossible to access healthcare. Many times it was lack of education and lack of explanation. Parents didn’t understand that although their child looked in bad shape at that moment, with appropriate rehydration and medical attention, they could absolutely survive so many took the decision to go home against medical (HAMA) advice, thinking their situations where hopeless. This was a particular grievance with the doctors and yet they didn’t seem to realize that they too had a part in this bad decision making, as they didn’t take the time to properly explain difficult medical terms and jargon and to encourage the parents to fight. Often the doctors also gave up when they felt parents where just not complying. This is where HHM staff played a vital role over the years in working alongside parents and encouraging them to believe in the sanctity of life and to believe that their child was worth fighting and sacrificing for. We had to put our money where our mouth was and literally spend hours alongside them, empowering them. We had to help financially while balancing our part with the part of the parents. It took years for us to learn the correct balance. Even though the hospital ministry was thriving and lives where being saved though, we still found that when kids were discharged, they often died quickly once they returned home.
That’s when HHM took the decision to create the CRU so that when children were discharged from hospital but still weak or in need of follow up care and treatment, they could live temporarily at CRU and their families could be empowered to fight for their child’s survival and recovery for a little longer than the mere days we had with them at the hospital. We worked hand in hand with any willing family to try to help their child recover and be reunified. Kids came in to CRU and stayed for days, weeks, months or even years in the cases of children who needed ongoing cancer treatments. Many families opted to have one parent come stay at CRU along with their child, especially when the child was in critical condition or was dying. Others had to leave their children at CRU under our care while they returned home to work and mind other younger children. We tried to do whatever was best for each individual child and their family.
CRU is staffed by nurses, houseparents, a social worker, a psychologist or psychometrician, teachers, admin and finance staff and a center head to manage it all. Auxiliary staff include a cook, driver, maintenance and security and we also usually have some volunteers to help assist in various areas. It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a village to make a CRU effective. Genders are mixed and ages of kids vary from newborn to 18. At times we have had to also extend to include young adults who were close to finishing Chemotherapy treatments for cancer. Children have come from CAR and other regions. DSWD have been very supportive of CRU as it is truly one of a kind. That means we often have to admit kids from other areas as there is no other NGO offering such a service for sick children on this scale where they are the sole focus and clientele. At the moment we have quite a few children who were “typical” at one point in their lives pre illness but because of the side effects and lasting damage, they have been left with multiple special needs. Many of these children were since abandoned by family and so, they remain as long term clients of CRU. We try not to accept new special needs patients as our goal is to leave beds open for sick children who are in need of a place for recovery. If we accepted kids with special needs, we could fill our home many times over but it would draw us away from our important VMG. Therefore, we aim to focus our new admissions strictly to sick children in need of a place to recover.
CRU is a place of healing. The love and care provided there is outstanding. It’s a challenging place to work because often the children we lovingly care for are extremely ill and in need of intense care. Sick kids can be demanding because they feel so terrible and lash out at whoever they are close too. The staff need to take time for self care and need a lot of internal support and encouragement. Together we make CRU a truly beautiful place to recover in. We currently have 15 children living in CRU. Sometimes that number is a little higher.
Children's Home (CH)
Our goal is to provide a place where children of all ages and abilities can find security and love in a home they will never be “pushed” out of. We believe that each child has the right to a family of their own (Republic Act of the Philippines 8043) and therefore we will always strive to make decisions in the best interest of our children. That means prioritizing reintegration into their own families. When that is not possible, we will work towards their alternative parental placement (adoption, foster care, legal guardianship). Finally, when neither of those options are possible, we wish to pattern our facility to be as close to a “family home” as possible and make sure that each of our children feel the love and support of a family. Therefore, after every effort has been made to provide alternative placements with parents or relatives of these children through coordination with the DSWD and other agencies, those children who are still without a home, who are either adoptable or not, who are beyond the age of adoption (“aged out”), or whose families have been determined for whatever reason to be incapable of caring for them will find a permanent loving home at Helping Hands Healing Hearts Ministries Children’s Home. As with regular families, we will make every effort to prepare the older children to eventually live independent lives within the local community. However, even after they have moved out of the Home and began to live independently, we would like to still have a space for them at the table and a home that they could still come to visit in when they are back in town. This is in our vision for the future and we hope that within the next few years, we will be able to make that a reality.
Though our initial target clientele are children who are without other options and in need of a forever family, based on our capabilities and existing resources, we plan to stay open to considering anyone who needs our services.
We currently have 25 children living in CH.
We provide individualized, tailored Homeschooling under the Homeschool Global program for each school aged child in our care. Children are taught by qualified teachers and are given the opportunity to catch up on much needed education even while recovering from illness or trauma. They gain confidence and and skills to help disrupt the generational cycles of poverty that have plagued their families for many years. The goal is for a change in the direction of their lives and in their lives of their future children.
Hospital Care Program
We assist families in Baguio General Hospital (BGH) and Benguet General Hospital (BEGH) by offering practical support for their needs while they are confined and after they are discharged if follow up care is needed. This is part of our family strengthening program. We help provide finances for treatment, life saving medications and medical supplies, as well as much as counselling, debriefing, emotional support and care to indigent children who are confined. Generally we aim to help families stay together through their crisis.
Future Dreams: the Children's Village
Our dream for the future involves purchasing land and building a village of family style cottages that can house children in a more family based setting. We want to move away from the traditional orphanage style home and get children back into family style homes. We want to remember that we are not raising orphans, we are raising sons and daughters! To do this, we believe that the children need to be in smaller homes with a Mama and a Papa that they can call their own. The Mama and Papa will have the assistance of some “aunties” in raising their kids but the flow of the home will be centered around them and the children.
Each home will have no more than 10 kids per house. The Children’s Village will focus on a variety of clientele groups, including children who have been orphaned, abandoned, abused, neglected or surrendered by their families. We will also have a Children’s Recovery Unit specifically for sick kids to have a home to recover in before they are reunited with their families. We also envision a Hospice type home which will provide palliative care for terminally ill children. An ageing out or transition home will provide a space for our older children to learn independent living skills while still feeling very much part of the family. The village will have admin buildings, a multipurpose hall and volunteers/mission teams quarters. It was also have a Healing Clinic and space for education and learning.
It is a huge vision but we hope to begin to make concrete plans for it in this year. Helping Hands has always believed in partnering and networking with others agencies and will continue to do so. We are not particularly set up or capable of handling CICL, sexually abused children, or children with moderate to severe disabilities and thus we will network with other agencies (both NGO and LGU) for the appropriate referrals and placement of children from each of these marginalized groups. On the flip side, we will be open to referrals from them for their sick children and children in need of long term family homes. As far as we know, we are the only NGO who specifically caters to sick children and thus we are also considering widening our areas of coverage as we realize that this service isn’t offered in other parts of the Philippines. We hope and pray that this vision of a large Children’s Village will someday soon become a reality.