Myla Salise, one of our Love Forward board members, lived at the Bohol Crisis Intervention Center before being supported through college through our predecessor program.
As reported in this recent article, provinces in the Philippines are struggling with an alarming number of cases involving minor rape and incest. Centers such as the Bohol Crisis Intervention Center provide temporary protective care, but lack the resources to provide any ongoing support for young women when they leave. Love Forward is partnering with such centers to fill this gap, enabling women to continue their education and work toward a successful future.
Lovely Granada is a social worker who directs the Love Forward program in the Philippines. Lovely wrote her master's thesis analyzing the success and weaknesses of our predecessor program, the Independent Living Program operated by Arms of Love. In this blog post, Lovely provides her observations on the critical need for a transition program to provide educational and other support for women after they leave crisis centers in the Philippines:
In the Philippines, there is devastating number of girls who are abused. Those who come from the most traumatic situations are placed in a crisis intervention center or residential care facility, where they are cared for and protected from further harm. But this safety net is only temporary - what happens when they leave determines their future.
Unfortunately, the situation regarding girls leaving the crisis centers is very alarming. These girls are extremely vulnerable to experiencing further harm after leaving protective custodial care. As a result, a significant numbers of released girls are re-traumatized, have difficulty supporting themselves, and eventually lose hope, often believing that their futures have been destroyed because they made wrong choices in life.
When leaving crisis centers, girls also commonly suffer from feelings of isolation and loneliness, fears from uncertainty, and a lack of human support, including family willing to receive and accept them. The financial inability to pursue a further education typically results in the girls working in very low paying jobs, and oftentimes engaging in dangerous or illegal activities in order to survive.
Despite these immense risks, young women leaving crisis centers in the Philippines do not receive any further support for their education or aftercare, because most of the centers lack the needed services and adequate funding to operate a transition program. This is a serious deficiency that demands immediate and urgent action. The failure to transition the girls to successful independent living, at best, jeopardizes their ability to become self-sufficient, and at worst, endangers their lives.
In view of these urgent needs, Love Forward is partnering with crisis intervention centers in Bohol and other provinces to provide educational support and other aftercare for women after they leave the centers. Given the risk factors mentioned above, a successful transition program primarily includes support for living and educational expenses. But equally important are services that strengthen personal readiness for independent living, build character, and develop self-sufficiency. Ongoing emotional support, counseling, and mentoring are critical components of helping each student persevere through future difficulties and heal from their past trauma.
Love Forward's transition and scholarship program provides for the living and educational expenses of women after they leave the crisis centers, so they can pursue a higher education and reach for their dreams in life. But we are striving to go beyond that by working with partner organizations and local volunteers who provide other types of support, so every student has the holistic care she needs to realize a future different from her past.
Lovely Granada with several girls living at the Arms of Love Children's Home on Bohol.