UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham learns about the harsh realities of children on the streets of the Philippines
2 December 2011, Manila, Philippines - UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham meets five young people in a UNICEF supported centre for children who once lived and worked on the streets.
Manila, Philippines, December 2, 2011 – UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham in the Philippines this week, highlighted the situation of children living and working on the streets of cities all over the world.
Visiting a DSWD and UNICEF assisted centre, the football star met children aged from 7 – 17 years, who have all spent the early part of their lives living and working on the streets of towns and cities across the Philippines.
2 December 2011, Manila, Philippines - UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham plays football with young people in a UNICEF supported centre for children who once lived and worked on the streets. Football is a lifeline for the children in the centre as it helps them build confidence, strength and self-esteem. ©UNICEF/2011/Villafranca
‘As a father, I can’t imagine how life was for these young children living and working on the streets. They are exposed to so many threats and dangers, and are missing out on the basics in life – having people around who love and guide them’, Beckham said after meeting some of the children.
2 December 2011, Manila, Philippines - UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham tries on a graduation gown sewn by children in a UNICEF supported centre for children who once lived and worked on the streets. Sewing classes are part of the livelihood programmes in the centre, teaching skills as well as providing clothes for the children. ©UNICEF/2011/Villafranca
It is estimated that there are 250,000 children living and working on streets of towns and cities across the Philippines. These children are exposed to violence, abuse and exploitation. UNICEF works to help these vulnerable children leave the streets and get back into a caring, supportive environment either with their parents, other relatives or sometimes in temporary centres. Mr. Beckham was welcomed to the centre and its children by the manager, Ms. Siony Flores who explained to him the profile and background of the 130 children temporarily staying there.
‘ Here we give the children guidance, care and opportunities to learn new skills. But the real focus is on helping children integrate back into their communities, with their families or relatives where a caring, home environment can take them forward in their lives’, Flores said.
2 December 2011, Manila, Philippines - UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham gets a lesson in sewing from a staff member in a UNICEF supported centre for children who once lived and worked on the streets. Sewing classes are part of the livelihood programmes in the centre, teaching skills as well as providing clothes for the children. ©UNICEF/2011/Villafranca
Mr Beckham was toured around the centre by the children themselves, and participated in sewing sessions, art classes and was entertained by an impromptu rap and dance session. Throughout it all, the children helped him learn about the reality of their lives.
‘Whilst many of these children have been through tough experiences in their young lives, like any child they still have hopes and dreams. The staff here has a huge responsibility and they are doing an amazing job giving these children the love, guidance and care they’ve been missing,’ said Beckham visibly touched by the children he met.
The culmination of the visit was a 20 minute football game with the centre players, where Beckham showed off some of his famous football skills.
Conan, 17, who toured Beckham around, was just seven when he was brought to the centre. Whilst his parents are not in contact, he has since found his sister, and she now visits him every three months. A skilled, keen footballer he said, ‘I can’t believe we had such a famous footballer come and play with us – we are such a small team, with little equipment. But I feel very special now, and more determined to improve my game.’
On leaving the centre David reflected: ‘ All these children have been failed by adults in the crucial early years of their lives. I would not be where I am today without the love and support of my family – every child deserves that, every child deserves a second chance’.