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Opinion: From the Center

From the Center
with Rolly Espina



Our salute to Kalipay Negrense Foundation Inc. Anna Balcells, founder and president, reportedly for unhesitatingly taking over the Recovered Treasures Home of the Christ Central Ministries of the Philippines Inc.

Therasa Hyself and Balcells recently presided the turnover ceremony of the Recovered Treasurers Home in Barangay Busay, Bago City.

The home takes care of 57 disadvantaged children. These mostly are abandoned, malnourished, and physically and sexually abused children not only from Bago City but from all over Negros Occidental, reports said.

But what Balcells and the KNFI board have taken over is not a walk in the breeze. For a start, its cost P250,000 to run the home. The original 75 children had been reduced to only 57 because of cost-cutting measures, she said in a DAILY STAR report yesterday.

KNFI, incidentally, is also operating another home for children in Bacolod City with 30 of them.

At least, Balcells pins her hopes on government to be able to come up with the funds needed to sustain their expenses.

But they don’t lose hope. Perhaps, various government units of the province, especially the provincial government may be also to cough up some funds to help out KNFI with its daunting task for the sake of the children.

So with better-heeled Negrense families. After all, the hope of the Fatherland are the children.

 

 
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It is also good that people have awakened to our problem of cruelty to children.

The case of that 6-year-old girl who died in the hands of her parents, from what police reports said were beatings made by her parents, we hope will also awaken our people to this great problem.

Anna Balcells who runs a foundation that takes care of some 275 street children, pointed out a very important problem.

The reality, Anna said, is most of these street children run away from home, not because of poverty but because of the abuse of their own parents and close relatives.

This is a big social problem.

* * *

We suggest that our Social Welfare officials dig deeper into the problem.  They get these street children, interview them and find out the real cause why are they in the streets.

I tend to believe what Anna Balcells said that most of these street children run away from home to escape the abuses of their own parents and close relatives.

Social Welfare can file cases against these parents and relatives, people responsible for the abuses.

* * *

 
Stars pledge help

Carla Gomez
Inquirer Visayas

January 02, 2011

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – Some 57 celebrities have pledged support for the children of Negros in need of shelter, education and care.

Actors, doctors, chefs, designers and photographers joined 2010 PledgeStock—promising to share their time, talent and ideas to generate awareness of two foundations, according to Jay Abello, one of the organizers.

The event, held at Gamma Studio in Makati on Dec. 8 and 9, sought to raise funds for the work being done by the Kalipay Negrense and Tapulanga foundations for Negrense children, Abello said.

Kalipay Negrense helps the homeless, orphaned, physically and sexually abused, malnourished, out-of-school and special children, its president Anna Balcells said.

Tapulanga helps provide educational, health care and micro-credit assistance to communities in Silay City and neighboring areas, said its executive director, Micmic Abello-Golez.

During the PledgeStock event, the celebs offered their services for free to star in 20 advertisements that Abello shot, and which will be aired on cable channels throughout 2011.

Abello said many of the celebrities who came to his Gamma Studio for their shoots stayed to talk to the people running the foundations.

Many of the celebs had roots in Negros. These included Joel Torre, Ronnie Lazaro, Analin Bantug, and JM Rodriguez. The others who also made pledges were John Lapus, siblings Mark and Cherie Gil, Pinky Amador, members of The CompanY, and designer Rajo Laurel.

©2011 www.inquirer.net all rights reserved

 
Finally, a home for a blind child with autism

Inquirer Visayas
By Carla Gomez
Inquirer Visayas
First Posted 18:54:00 06/11/2010

Filed Under: Children, Diseases, Health
AFTER A LONG AND near-hopeless search for a home for a blind orphan child with autism, God provided a miracle.

And John Wigley, 25, of the Associate Missionaries of the Assumption (AMA) from Manchester, England, said it was wonderful to be involved in it.
On Tuesday, Wigley accompanied Ricor de la Cruz, whom he believes is about 7 years old as there are no records of his birth, to his new home at the Calvary Chapel Children’s Home in Bacolod City to live with missionaries Billy and Joe Rosmarino and their 169 other children, after learning about their work through an Inquirer article (http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/regions/view/20091127-238780/Abused-children-find-love-in-this-home) published in November last year.

Wigley came to the Philippines in September 2009 to work with the Philippine Blind Union in Jaro District in Iloilo as part of a mission that helps the blind and the deaf. It was there where he met Ricor, who was abandoned by his father after his mother died.
Ricor roamed the city with no clothes, played in polluted gutters, and had had little or no care.
With financial help from his friends and family in England, Wigley took Ricor, who had a respiratory problem, for medical treatment. The boy was diagnosed with autism.

The missionary was also told that there was a chance Ricor could see again.

A glimpse
On Dec. 18, 2009, he found the resources to have the boy undergo a cataract operation. But since Ricor should have had the procedure much earlier, the eyes had absorbed the cataract and he will never have a 20/20 vision, Wigley said.
The operation gave Ricor a little of his sight back to be able to run around objects, but Wigley said he was praying that someday, the boy would be able to see colors.

Wigley said that with the money he had raised, he was able to bring Ricor to a caregiver in Santa Barbara, Iloilo, where the country air helped him recover from his respiratory problem.

When Wigley’s money from England ran out, however, he had to bring Ricor back to the blind center in Jaro in February.
The blind adults there should be given lots of credit for having taken Ricor in despite their poverty. Some earn money by giving massage while some beg on the streets, he said.

Wigley said he visited the blind center every day and Ricor, most of the time, ran around unsupervised without any clothes on.
Worried that his stay in the Philippines would be ending on July 14, Wigley began a serious search for a suitable home for Ricor anywhere on Panay Island and approached maybe around 100 Catholic churches, the Mormons and Jesuits.

He also went almost daily to the Department of Social Welfare and Development office in Iloilo, begging for help. ‘I was desperate, I needed to find a home for Ricor before leaving the Philippines. I prayed to God for a miracle,’ he said.

Then one day in February, while he was at the DSWD again, a woman whom he did not know handed him an Inquirer newspaper clip about abused and abandoned children who found love at Calvary Chapel Children’s Home in Bacolod.

She had told him to contact the woman named Anna Balcells who was mentioned in the story. But Wigley did not even look at the woman in the eye as he was so frustrated and angry. He just stuck the article in his bag.

Four weeks ago, Wigley said he remembered to read the article and found the e-mail address of Balcells, president of the Kalipay Negrense Foundation Inc. (www.kalipaynegrense.org), which helps raise funds for the care of abused and abandoned children.

In an e-mail to Balcells dated May 6, Wigley wrote: ‘I am in search of a suitable home for an abandoned boy named Ricor de la Cruz. He is a very special child with autism and visual impairment. He has no family and is currently being looked after by a group of blind persons. As a result he is losing weight at an alarming rate and I worry immensely for his future. Can you help’ If your foundation does not cater for a boy like Ricor, do you have any contacts that may be able to help me find this boy a home’’

Home at last
Balcells said she was out of town and eventually got his
e-mail on May 13 and assured him that she would find a happy home for the boy.
She said she knew the Rosmarinos would be perfect for the child but did not want to burden them with another, knowing how many they already had to care for with limited resources.

So she contacted homes in Manila, but on May 24, while with Nanay Billy Rosmarino in Bacolod, she told her about Ricor.
‘I told Billy I did not want to burden her with another child knowing how many children Calvary already had, but needed her advise on where to place Ricor,’ Balcells said.

‘Right away, Billy wanted to know where Ricor was and by Monday she and a delegation from Calvary where in Iloilo checking on how he was,’ Balcells said.
On Tuesday, Billy Rosmarino, accompanied by Wigley, brought Ricor home to Calvary’his new home.

Balcells said that when the Rosmarinos saw Ricor, they were so excited and welcomed him like he was the very first child into their home.
‘Ricor has come to a home where he will have lots of love and care, the woman who handed the Inquirer article to Wigley so he could find me so I could lead him to Calvary must have been God’s angel,’ Balcells said.

Ricor just fits perfectly into their home, it was totally the Lord who brought him to them, Billy said.

Copyright 2012 Inquirer Visayas.


 
Fund-raising

Inquirer Visayas
Fund-raising
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 20:52:00 11/27/2009
Filed Under: Children, Education

HELPING RAISE FUNDS TO KEEP THE Calvary Chapel Home going is the Kalipay Negrense Foundation, which helps homeless, malnourished, physically and sexually abused and out of school children.

Its president, Anna Balcells, said Kalipay also helps raise funds for scholarships of the children going to college.

We do our share to make sure that these beautiful homes for disadvantaged children never have to give up,' Balcells said.

If we don't break the chain of pain that these children are suffering, they can become future criminals. We have to take them away from the horrors that no child should ever have to experience and give them a new beginning in a home where they feel safe, they are protected and loved.?

Those interested in helping may contact Balcells or Kalipay vice president John Gayoso at 09173003595 or send an e-mail to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 
A haven for kids

A haven for kids
By Carla Gomez
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:14:00 02/28/2009

BACOLOD CITY - Her cousin had molested her, her mother was a drug addict and her father did not want to have anything to do with her.

Her older sister, the one person she loved, was taken by her mother to work in Manila.



Read more...
 
Group tries to keep kids’ shelter open

Group tries to keep kids’ shelter open
By Carla P. Gomez
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Posted: Friday, September 16th, 2011

BACOLOD CITY—Volunteer keepers of a shelter for abandoned and abused children in Bago City in Negros Occidental are scrimping after American donors in the United States pulled back when an economic recession struck the country in 2009.

 

Read more...
 
A bigger refuge for abused children

 

Abused children now have a bigger home in Bacolod City, where they can seek refuge and hide from their abusers.
The Haven House’s two-story Kalipay Home has three big rooms with bathrooms that can accommodate at least 40 children, said Kalipay Negrense Foundation Inc. (KNFI) president Anna Balcells.


It also has a library-classroom for children who cannot go to school, a timeout room for those suffering from trauma who become violent, a kitchen, a living room, an office for social workers, a clinic and two rooms for volunteers who help take care of the children.


A wall has also been built around the property to keep the children safe.

 

“The new Haven is a gift to the disadvantaged and abused children of Negros Occidental and Bacolod,” Balcells said.

 

Hefty donation

The “gift” actually came from a Manila-based philanthropist, a friend of Balcells’, who decided to give a hefty donation upon hearing that the children’s old home at Fuentebella Subdivision in Bacolod had become run down and was being eaten by termites.


The old facility was purchased in 2007 with the help of another friend of Balcells’, Elizabeth Sy, a daughter of taipan Henry Sy of the SM Group of Companies. The property was also bought with Sy’s donation.
The Haven House was originally located in a rented house in Bacolod in early 2000. It was run by American social worker Philip Seckler, 75, and his wife, Cecilia Garcia, a native of Negros Occidental, using their pension from the United States.

 

Permanent home

But the Seckler couple were running out of money and food for the children.


Balcells then decided to gather her friends and put up the KNFI to help the Secklers buy a permanent home for the children they were caring for. A two-story wooden house was bought in Fuentebella Subdivision.


Kalipay was created to accept donations that were coming in for the Haven, Balcells said. It took over the management of Haven House last year as the Secklers were set to retire this month.


Another facility, the Recovered Treasures’ Kalipay Home, was set up n Bago City, also in Negros Occidental. Both Haven and Recovered Treasures are run by full-time house parents and staff.


When Kalipay started helping Haven in 2007, there were only 18 children. Now, it had grown to 30. The building can no longer accommodate that number and had been deteriorating and infested by termites.


In March last year, Balcells said she was talking to a friend, Miguel Bonet, Kalipay’s ambassador to Spain, about the need to raise funds to build a new house for Haven. Their conversation was overheard by her philanthropist friend.
“The next day, she (philanthropist) came to me and said ‘I want you to build that house.’ And I said: ‘But how, I don’t have the money,’” Balcells said.


Her philanthropist friend, who didn’t want to be identified, told Balcells that she would give money to build a bigger facility. The old house was then torn down to give way to a bigger and better home.


While the facility was being constructed, the children stayed in a rented house on Lizares Avenue. They will move in to their new home on April 1.

 

Children in need

“We want to put notices out that if a child is being beaten up and hurt, we can take them in at Haven,” Balcells said. A room separate from the main house will be used by social workers to assess and care for children needing help.


“This new house is well thought out with the intention of being a refuge. We hear a lot of stories of children who are abused and don’t know where to run to hide and seek help. We want to be that place for them,” Balcells said.

At the same time, she is asking financial help so the KNFI can sustain at least the monthly needs of the home that cost about P150,000, which covers food, medicine, clothing and the education of the children.


Those interested in helping Kalipay may call 0917-7002345 or 709-1215, or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

By Carla P. Gomez
Inquirer Visayas

 
The cross wrought by man; the Cross brought by God

I WAS listening to the homily of Fr. Chao and he focused on the crosses that come into our lives. The first one, the cross wrought by man, is easy to relate with. In life, man brings upon man many crosses. The cross of betrayal, denial, false witness, lies, physical hurt, abusive language and many other persecutions.

However, when he mentioned the cross brought upon us by God, I had to stop, think and reflect. Does God in all His almighty compassion and mercy consciously bestow upon us crosses to bear? We know of His graces and blessings, but crosses?

I had a classic answer to my questioning mind when I attended the blessing of the new home of Haven in Taculing.

The story of Haven started when Phil Seckler, a retired social worker, together with his wife Cecilia, likewise a social worker, decided to come home to the Philippines. With Phil’s monthly pension, they could live comfortably but God had other plans.

A severely sickly child was brought into their home. The Secklers took care of the child and gave him the much needed medical attention, not realizing that a new vocation was activated in their lives. Phil and Cecilia began rescuing children - the malnourished, the abused, the battered, the abandoned. Children who in their tender years have suffered crosses wrought on by their fellowmen and saddest part of the tale is that it is usually by one’s own kin!

It is horrifying to learn that children as young as three years old are raped or sold to prostitution by their own family members. It is appalling to see children beaten, banged like worthless pieces of wood. But such are the crosses wrought by man. So inhumane!

As the numbers grew, Haven Home was born and Phil and Cecilia became Mom and Dad to these broken children. There were mounting problems but the couple hanged on to their mission until, one day, they were to be evicted.

Haven was now home to 30 children. Although God allows crosses to step into our lives, He always sends His instruments. Entering into their lives was Anna Balcells.

Anna was a returning resident who lived in Barcelona, Spain for countless years. Anna’s father Alberto Balcells was sick and she decided to come home and take care of him. When he passed on, Anna likewise decided to stay on and take care of her mom.

Anna’s friend, Elaine Eleazar, who was aware of the plight of Phil and Cecilia, brought Anna to Haven. This was in the dead of night and the house was dark but the place reverberated with children’s laughter. That was enough to move Anna to a commitment.

A phone call to a generous friend and a new home was bought for the Secklers and the children. This move also ushered in the establishment of Kalipay Negrense Foundation, Inc.

To date, there are now five homes under the care of Kalipay and Anna has not only exhausted her energies in finding funding for these abused and abandoned children which now totals 300 here in the Philippines but she has also extended her efforts to distant shores . As of last year, Kalipay, Spain Foundation, Inc. was organized as well.

A year or so ago, Anna called me asking for a property where they can build a bigger home for the children of Haven. After much deliberation and discernment, the Board decided to tear down the original house and build a bigger one.

Where to get the funds was another cross but Anna was unwavering. She knew that God will provide that. Indeed, help came. Vladi Gonzales with his team of men came and wiped out the dilapidated home. Norman Campos, the architect husband of Gigi who is one of the directors of Kalipay, designed the new home which is complete with living quarters for toddlers, girls and boys and for the staff. There were bathrooms adjacent to these rooms. There is an office, a library, a clinic, kitchen and classrooms plus all the facilities needed for the care, health and nutrition of the children.

While God sent a cross, He also sent a blessing. Anna was able to find a benefactor for the New Haven Home. It is equipped to take care of these children who have suffered the atrocities brought on by man. There is a pediatrician who has tirelessly given his services to monitor the health of the kids.

What is wanting, though, is a child psychologist who can treat the traumas experienced by these kids. Anna says that, despite all the love and attention bestowed upon these children, there are cases when the grown child succumbs to depression and total lack of self worth.

When cases like this surface, then they have to send the child to Manila to be supervised by a child psychologist there. If only we have one here in Bacolod, then it can cut the mounting obligations on top of the daily needs, food, clothing, education and all the basic necessities that come with the rearing of children.

Anna says that the new Haven is a refuge for children who want to be rescued from the harsh punishments they are subjected to and a place to run to for help. Kalipay works directly with the DSSW and they have social workers in their team to assess the situation of the children.

The cross wrought by man is so evident when you hear the stories of these children. I cower in shame when I compare my personal woes to them. The cross wrought by God is the responsibility handed on to Anna and her team and the noble persons like Phil and Cecilia. I stand in awe how they have embraced this most trying cross. It is not easy to meet even just our own daily obligations, more so for 300 or more children who are bruised and wounded inside and out!

While we all cannot donate an edifice, our donations no matter how small or seemingly insignificant can buy a pencil for the school needs of the children or some soap for their hygiene.

Collectively the small donations can amount to much, especially when given from the heart and most meritorious in heaven. In our small, secret way, let us help Anna and Kalipay and bear part of the cross, especially in this season of Lent.

By Luci Lizares

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 17, 2012.

 
Abused Children Can Escape, ‘Kalipay’ is their Refuge

 

It was with tears that Anna Balcells acknowledged how retired social workers Philip Seckler and wife Cecilia had changed her outlooks in life and vowed to pursue a "thankless" job of providing concrete facilities for children who are homeless, sexually and physically abused, the out of school youth and special children.

Last March 7, 2012, Father Narciso de la Cruz prayed and blest the "Haven House Kalipay Home" at 12 Neptune Street, Fuentebella Subdivision where twenty five young children initially raised by the Seckler couple smiled as they sang and danced to a small group gathering.

Anna Balcells said, "Behind those smiles, you should hear the horrible stories of these children individually."

The crimes committed are known to those working for them under the Kalipay Negrense Foundation, Inc., but being very young, some of them cannot define their inner pain and suicide can be an option. These cases, she said, has to be brought to Manila for proper therapy and treatment but which is very expensive.

Running a haven for broken children, therefore, Anna Balcells articulated a very strong message to fellow Negrenses during the blessing of the "Haven House", that they need all the help "in whatever way, in whatever amount" as this gargantuan task of saving children is awesome.

She does not have access to funding agencies so drawing money from her pocket, calls her group of committed friends and the mission is "to save a 5-year old kid gangraped at midnight in one of the streets of Bacolod".

"Miracles and miracles" is how Anna Balcells and friends described the establishment of Kalipay Negrense Foundation, Inc. back in 2007 and two days ago, in a private property, a haven was built that can comfortably accommodate 40 children.

An apt response to what the Kalipay website reads, "Of the 1.6 million street children in the Philippines, 60,000 are prostituted. Six million Filipino children are malnourished. Roughly 28 children get arrested everyday or more than one child for every hour."

IN NEGROS OCCIDENTAL ALONE, AN AVERAGE OF THREE CHILDREN ARE RESCUED DAILY, it added.

Contact Kalipay Negrense Foundation , Inc., 63 34 7091215; 63 34 4953500 and Mobile 93917 700 2345 for your donations.*

 
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