The Stairway Foundation Inc. is a non-profit, non-governmental association dedicated to childcare in Puerto Galera, Philippines. It was founded by Lars C. Jorgensen and Monica D. Ray as an alternative support program for the most marginalized and most distressed street children in the
To create a safe environment for children all over the world, where their rights are respected regardless of the nation in which they grow up.
Through innovation, creative intelligence and a skilled network, Stairway is committed to learning and improving every day from the work done with the children, as well as to showing the results achieved in order to become a source of inspiration and education for the partners, in the same region and in other parts of the world, to protect and promote children’s rights in the world.
When we arrived at the Stairway Foundation, we were impressed by what these people built for the children. The Stairway Foundation is an extraordinary place, a fantastic world where some of the most unfortunate children of Manila are hosted, after being victims of abuse or having experienced a difficult past. Thanks to the love of the Stairway’s staff and the magic of this place, they can look again to their future with optimism, they can recover that happiness that should be a right for all children. Here they learn to dream.
The idea of Stairway is to make these children feel loved. For this reason the staff isn’t hosting more than 14 children in a year. This decision comes from the fact that, in order to devote adequate attention and make the children feel like a real family and not like just a number, it is necessary to work on a small groups.
Stairway has inspired many associations in Southeast Asia, which have replicated the project and given the opportunity to more and more children to regain their future. In the case of Stairway, children, mostly from the slums of Manila, spend their days going to school classes in the morning and practicing some sports or artistic activities in the afternoon. Depending on their level of education they learn to read and write. Children also take acting classes, during which they prepare three shows in the course of a year and sometimes also a musical. We were so lucky to attend the Christmas show entitled “One Wish” and it was amazing. In addition to the talent and spontaneity on stage, we have perceived, as spectators, how much the children enjoy playing the various characters. In addition to acting, children also learn to paint; this activity allows them to express emotions, about which they wouldn’t otherwise talk, and to open up with teachers. There are also lessons of manual work, such as carpentry, in which they build wooden toys, or agriculture lessons, during which everyone with his small vegetable garden learns the basics of cultivation.
Almost every day there is room for team sports to teach children to play in a group and trust each other. On other days they are given the opportunity to try sailing or diving. Sport is linked to the Stairway project for the protection of the environment, considered very important, as the future of the children is also involved when it comes to ecology.
Sometimes in the morning the children go to the beach to clean it and take a bath. They recycle and know the importance of not wasting water and energy. The children are extraordinary, very altruistic and always ready to explain us how Stairway works.
The day we went down to the beach to try my sup board with them, was a memorable experience for me. The guys were enthusiastic and had a lot of fun. Unfortunately, there was only one sup board available, so we had to organize us in turns: they used the table in pairs, while I followed them swimming and had fun making them tip over the board…
Stairway has also a project dedicated to the education of the children of a village in the mountains near Puerto Galera. There, due to poverty, the children are forced to go to work and earn money to buy food. Therefore only a very small part of the children can go to class. Stairway offers meals to all children that go to school, so that they are not an economic burden for their families. Stairway’s staff also advises and teaches the artisans of that village on how to give a fair price to their artifacts and how to sell their handmade products.
In conclusion I must say that I was impressed by Stairway and it is an honor for me to be their representative. It was a great pleasure to see the children’s reaction to my trip and to witness their enthusiasm. I hope this journey of mine can somehow help and be an inspiration for these children.