Shelters kept unlocked for the homeless during coronavirus outbreak
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – How are the homeless being taken care of during the Luzon lockdown or what officials call the "enhanced community quarantine"?
The Philippine government placed Luzon under lockdown starting Tuesday, March 17, as a response to the increasing number of coronavirus cases in the country.
In a bid to contain the spread of the virus, the measure implemented strict quarantine procedures, suspension of transportation services, and regulation of food and essential health services, among others. Additional travel restrictions were rolled out while local governments across the capital region moved to implement an 8 pm to 5 am curfew in their respective areas.
The measure however lacked details on how the most vulnerable sectors – including the homeless – will be taken care of.
This has only put the homeless in a tighter situation than they had already been in prior to the virus outbreak. (READ: Confusion in Manila keeps over 20 curfew violators in jail for 2 days)
Despite the enforced quarantine, fortunately, some establishments have decided to keep their doors open for homeless people who need their assistance more than ever.
St Arnold Janssen Kalinga Center
In a Facebook post, Fr Flavie Villanueva of St Arnold Janssen Kalinga Center said that keeping the center open during these trying times is just the right thing to do as the homeless need to be kept clean, strong, healthy, and informed about the threats the coronavirus brings.
Last week, the center was able to serve 226 homeless people, and wish to be able to reach out to even more.
In a beautiful turn of events, eight homeless young men decided to volunteer and dedicate themselves as Beneficiary Volunteers (B-Volts).
Villanueva expressed his gratitude in his post, saying, “In the midst of panic, they came to help. In the midst of hoarding for one’s survival, they gave themselves at the service of their fellow homeless.”
He has also guaranteed that the center shall continue to strictly employ safety guidelines such as social distancing and hygiene maintenance as they extend help to their benefactors.
However, while the Kalinga Center opened its doors to serve early Thursday morning, the local barangay officials where the center is located attempted to shut the relief activities down, stressing that Villanueva was not following lockdown protocol and that his project’s intentions were not genuine.
Caring for the Homeless and the poor... Today, March 19, 2020, Fr. Flavie, together with some volunteers, opened the...Posted by Tessam Castillo on Thursday, March 19, 2020
As a result, volunteers and beneficiaries were dispersed by the barangay captain despite the center observing proper social distancing of at least 1.5 m between people in the queue.
In an interview, Villanueva said, “I don’t know what is more painful, to see someone denied of food or to see someone in authority tell a homeless person to get out.”
At the moment, the center is still calling for donations of face masks, sources of vitamin C, food, and water to give to the homeless. St Arnold Janssen Kalinga Center located in Santa Cruz, Manila will continue providing care to the homeless every Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Hey Homies is currently offering its available Airbnb and condominium units for street dwellers along the España-Morayta area.
The company’s chief operating officer (COO) is currently offering a monthlong staycation with free food and utilities to the homeless people who need it the most in the midst of the pandemic.
However, most of these people declined his offer, as they were not aware of the ongoing outbreak at all.
Hey Homies is urging people who might pass by along Loyola St, España Blvd, and Nicanor Reyes St to bring food to help sustain the street dwellers of Morayta and to get in touch with their COO.
Barangay Captain TJ Malvar, MD is looking to start a soup kitchen in Calawis, Antipolo City.
Many residents of their barangay have been forced to come home as a result of the temporary work suspension implemented as part of the lockdown. Malvar expressed his worry about this, especially since most of these people are contractual or informal laborers who are also breadwinners of their families.
This also means that within a week or two, people especially the vulnerable will start going hungry.
In preparation for this, project #PusoKitchen seeks to prepare at least 300 meals a day for those in need, particularly senior citizens, malnourished children, as well as pregnant and lactating mothers.
Malvar added that their barangay is also accepting donations of rice, instant coffee, and soap.
A store that sells popsicles and burritos in Barangay East Kamias, Quezon City has decided to transform its place into a shelter for the homeless and those affected by the lockdown.
Popburri will be open daily from 6 pm to 6 am until April 12 to serve dinner and handle medical needs with the support of the East Kamias Barangay teams.
“You are welcome to serve and bring food for our community during this time, or bring an old mattress, pillow, or bedsheet which we really need. We may be small, but we serve a big God, let’s be instruments for Him together!” Popburri said in a Facebook post.
De La Salle University
Both the De La Salle University (DLSU) and the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (CSB) opened theirs doors to serve as a temporary sanctuaries to the homeless in Manila during the month-long enhanced community quarantine. (READ: De La Salle Philippines launches 'kada-uno' campaign for coronavirus response)
At least 79 individuals are staying at the 2nd floor of the Enrique Razon Sports Center inn DLSU and 69 homeless individuals are staying in CSB until the Luzon-wide lockdown is lifted. DLSU is working with the Divine Word Missionaries (SVD) through their KAin, LIgo NG ayos (KALINGA) Program.
- AJ KALINGA FOUNDATION, INC.
- Asia United Bank (AUB)
- AUB Peso Savings Account no.: 082-11-000496-2
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Maria Victoria Tenido Te is a Core Mover from Dipolog City and is currently a freshman at Ateneo de Manila University.