(June 27, 2012) Julien Levy, a 2011 graduate of Piedmont High School wrote an article published in the Piedmont Post about his volunteer experience at the Tuloy Foundation Orphanage. The orphanage is a Salesian-run establishment that works with the many street children in the Philippines. It was this volunteer experience, Levy noted, that motivated him to begin raising money to allow more youth access to this program.
According to the article, Levy volunteered at the orphanage in summer of 2010, and during his time there worked as a computer skills teacher and teacher's assistant while staying in one of the 10 dorms with the children. In addition, he played soccer and basketball with the youth, sang with the choir, and participated in community service. He was able to fully experience life at the orphanage during his stay.
Levy writes, “Every day on the streets of Manila, Philippines, children as young as seven years old are forced to sell their bodies to survive. Many join gangs and become addicted to drugs. Not only do these children face traumatic experiences, such as sexual violence, but they are also homeless, usually because they were abandoned or neglected by their parents. It is hard to comprehend the hardships faced by these young children, left to fend for themselves on the mean streets of Manila.”
Levy says that in the sea of indifference, poverty, and exploitation, Tuloy Foundation Orphanage is making a real difference in the lives of youth. Tuloy specializes in working with street children, most of whom have been addicted to drugs, members of gangs, and victims of sexual violence. The articles states that Tuloy was opened in 1993 and has since taken in about 1,000 street children, giving them a safe home, love, and the skills to become self-sufficient adults. Through their outreach programs, Tuloy Foundation Orphanage has reached more than 10,000 since its opening.
Tuloy doesn’t just house youth, it focuses on educating them with practical vocational skills in addition to standard education that enables the youth to support themselves once they graduate, Levy explained. These skills, he says, include automotive, air-conditioning and computer repair, cooking, and culinary arts. In addition Levy wrote that once students have mastered a skill and graduate, Tuloy will connect them with a job and continue to let them live at the residence while they get the necessary experience to gain a degree and support themselves.
Levy also explained that in addition to teaching youth a trade, educators also instill important work ethics that help them to maintain employment and function in their daily lives. Levy explained a lesson he saw first-hand while volunteering in 2010.
“During my stay, the staff focused on improving the punctuality of the children. For example, if a child was late to morning assembly, they were informed that they did not waste just one minute of their own time, but rather one minute of every other child's time which would total 500 minutes wasted, since there were 500 children at assemblies,” Levy explained.
Levy said in the article that while Tuloy has received a number of grants and gifts to build dormitories, it still lacks the funding to operate all of the dormitories. He explained that at the present time, three new dormitories remain empty because of a lack of operational funding. Ninety children, Levy writes, 30 who could be housed in each dormitory are left on the streets having to fend for themselves potentially joining gangs and doing drugs.
Levy’s goal, as stated in the article, is to raise enough money to fill one Tuloy dorm with children. The article notes that it will take $150,000 to support a full dormitory over the next five years. To date, Levy has raised $110,000 which includes a dollar-to-dollar match from his parents, who fully support his fundraising efforts. As a result, according to the article, Tuloy will be able to open a new dormitory for 30 children in the fall of 2012. Donations are still needed to cover the operation of the dormitory over the next five years.
“It is a truly magical place that is giving a future to thousands of children who have known only poverty, homelessness, drugs, and abuse.” Levy states in the article. “I plan to spend another month volunteering at Tuloy during the summer of 2012.”