Published on
17 November 2023

The Roncalli International Foundation maintains valuable and longstanding relationships with several partners in the Philippines who support a variety of projects that have a significant impact on improving the living conditions of the most vulnerable.

During her recent mission to the Philippines, our Executive Director Danielle Valiquette had the opportunity to meet our local partners in person and visit the inspiring initiatives they are implementing. She was particularly struck by the urban poverty that exists in large cities, where the social fabric is much more fragile.

Let’s dive into her exciting adventure together to discover the actions taking place to serve communities in need.

Enriching encounters with religious congregations

The trip began with a meeting in Manila with the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, who work mainly with Indigenous communities on the island of Mindanao, in collaboration with local organizations.

At another stop at the General Administration of the Dominican Sisters of the Trinity in Davao, there were visits to several construction and renovation projects that were financed through dedicated donations to the Foundation, notably a 78-room residence for retired or convalescing religious, the renovation of the Digos City hospital, and the renovation of the San Pedro hospital, which continues to offer low-cost services at a low cost to the most disadvantaged residents of Davao.

In Davao, there were also meetings with the Daughters of Mary of the Assumption (FMA), which strengthened collaboration and mutual trust. Mrs. Valiquette visited the congregation’s Tagum regional house and its three schools to gain a better understanding of their local context, including geographical, socio-economic and cultural aspects, as well as the challenges they face.




Urban poverty :

the hidden face of the cities

The Executive Director of the Roncalli Foundation continued her trip by immersing herself in the unforgiving realities of extreme poverty in Manila. She witnessed the sustainable results of the Foundation’s enduring partnerships with Minstrels Rhythm of Hope Inc. and the Kaibigan Ermita Outreach Foundation Inc.

These partnerships highlight the power of education as a lever for personal transformation. Investing in the education of vulnerable children from low-income backgrounds has a positive impact on empowering these youth, their health, social stability, future prospects, and long-term economic growth. Quality education unlocks individual potential, shapes long-term choices, and enables everyone to contribute to a better world.




Minstrels Rhythm of Hope Inc.

Minstrels Rhythm of Hope Inc. is dedicated to supporting the education of young people, particularly those from rural areas who face financial barriers related to tuition and transportation. The organization’s initiatives include scholarships for high school students, general education, as well as artistic and musical training for orphaned or children from underprivileged backgrounds.

Its distinctive approach is based on integrating young people into society through arts and culture. These young people, often prone to delinquency due to feelings of rejection and traumatic experiences, are reintegrated into the educational system through group activities that enable them to establish healthy relationships with their peers and discover their potential. Artistic activities are tailored to the young people’s individual interests and talents. With the support of animators, these young people develop personal pride in achieving what they are capable of. Some of them have had the opportunity to travel internationally as part of a musical troupe, and to be paid for their performances. These successes have enabled these youth from underprivileged backgrounds to become thriving adults, and some of them now occupy roles as animators, coordinators and co-facilitators within the organization.

The impact of Minstrels’ work extends far beyond the individual, reaching the families of the youth involved and helping to create employment opportunities. Most of the organization’s leaders and coordinators are former street children or come from families with severe economic or social difficulties, including mental health problems, domestic violence and alcoholism. This gives rise to moving and inspiring stories of their access to education, their perseverance, their successes and their current commitment to the organization.




The Roncalli Foundation renews support to Minstrels Rhythm of Hope Inc.

In Manila, the Executive Director of the Roncalli Foundation officially launched a new project in partnership with Minstrels. The project aims to increase Minstrels’ intake capacity at its Multipurpose Learning Centre in Manila. It involves the acquisition of essential equipment such as computers, painting easels, an audio system and a piano, as well as the rental of a larger space to accommodate a greater number of young people. The Roncalli Foundation is investing $28,722 in this initiative and is actively committed to supporting this organization which achieves remarkable feats in the challenging context of extreme urban poverty.

Kaibigan Ermita Outreach Foundation, Inc.

Kaibigan Ermita Outreach Foundation, Inc.

The meeting with Kaibigan Ermita Outreach Foundation, Inc. allowed the Executive Director of the Roncalli Foundation to see first-hand the tangible impact of the Foundation’s commitment to the protection of children and the empowerment of women. Kaibigan is dedicated to fighting urban poverty, with a particular focus on highly vulnerable street children from broken homes, who are living in extreme poverty.

The story of Susan Biteng is particularly inspiring, as it encapsulates the transformation made possible thanks to the invaluable work of the Kaibigan Foundation. Born into an extremely disadvantaged family and found wandering the streets, Susan’s life was completely changed thanks to the Kaibigan Foundation. She was offered shelter, security, adequate food and clothing – all the basic needs to thrive. She also had access to primary and secondary school and a college level education. This support proved essential to her development, giving her the opportunity to acquire leadership skills, become actively involved in community initiatives, and participate in a variety of training courses, including those focusing on gender equality and responsible citizenship. Today, she is the centre’s director, and is dedicated herself to guiding other young people in difficulty. She is a living example of the transformative actions of Kaibigan on the lives of street children.

Today, Kaibigan focuses mostly on working with youth, offering them a variety of training courses to acquire skills that will allow them to build a future, including personal finance management programs and opportunities to learn various trades, such as sewing and shoemaking.




In addition, Kaibigan has set up programs to support single mothers, enabling them to care for their children while attending training courses to improve their skills, find a job or start their own micro-entreprise, such as this lovely street canteen. They benefit from remedial courses, child-rearing training, and skills development aimed at strengthening their autonomy and socio-economic role within the community. Mothers also have access to microcredit, a valuable support given the frequent refusal of large financial institutions to lend to people in precarious situations.

Kaibigan’s work does not end there. It also helped families living under a bridge in unsanitary conditions and exposed to recurrent flooding to find safe shelters where they are protected from the elements. The youth who are supported no longer sink into delinquency, but rather, become agents of change who help other young people. They go from a situation of despair to regaining their dignity, developing their autonomy and improving their living conditions.

Kaibigan provides the essential elements to help these people out of extreme poverty, giving a helping hand to those who need it most to build a better future. The Roncalli Foundation will continue to work closely with Kaibigan to create a lasting positive impact in Manila’s working-class neighborhoods.




Thousands of impoverished Filipinos reside in makeshift shelters constructed from recycled materials scattered beneath the bridges that traverse the metropolitan area of Manila.

According to a recent report from the Manila Metropolitan Development Authority, approximately one in three residents of Manila is considered a squatter, representing at least 540,000 families. Among them, nearly 70,000 families have taken residence along the streams and rivers, obstructing the water flow due to the accumulation of waste.

It is essential to note that not everyone living under the bridges is necessarily unemployed, but they nonetheless live below the poverty threshold.
The Executive Director of the Roncalli Foundation visits communities in their modest shelters.
The Kaibigan Ermita Outreach Foundation, Inc. program is committed to identifying more suitable shelters for these families, viewing it as a fundamental right rather than a mere privilege.

Stairway Foundation

Mrs. Valiquette also stopped off in the coastal town of Puerto Galera to visit the Stairway Foundation. This organization is dedicated to promoting children’s rights, training teenagers in difficulty and raising awareness of environmental protection.

The Roncalli Foundation played a crucial role in helping Stairway initiate an organic farm project in 2019, which has since expanded significantly and continues to produce long-term benefits. The original objectives of the project were to make the farm secure, diversify its fruit tree production and improve the food security of the children of the community of Baclayan. Part of the harvest is now distributed to local schools, helping to reduce school drop-out rates.




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