Brief History (page 2)

The project was conceptualized by Lars C. Jorgensen and Monica D. Ray during their first visit to the Philippines.


The animation Daughter, a Story of Incest proved its worth during its first year of existence. It was distributed and used widely in the Philippines, and it was translated into Khmer and Bahasa to be used in Cambodia and Indonesia as well. The film also brought attention to the problem of child sexual abuse in other parts of the world, as it won a first prize in the category “Best Educational Film” at the world’s largest animation film festival in Annecy, France. At the same festival it also received a special award from UNICEF. Stairway’s local campaign against child sexual abuse was further intensified with an expansion of the organization’s network and a long line of trainings and workshops for teachers, social workers, church members and other caregivers. With more activity on the prevention side grew the need for more resources placed into the restoration of survivors of sexual abuse. Towards the end of the year, DANIDA gave promise to support Stairway’s work on child sexual abuse prevention for the next two years. In Stairway’s residential program, a total of 29 children and 7 youth were given assistance.


Based on more than a decade of experiences we decided to take an active part in the fight against child sexual abuse and commercial sexual exploitation of children here in the Philippines and globally. In 2003 we completed and released the 'Daughter, a Story of Incest' animation toolkit. At the same time we facilitated a series of 14 children's rights/child sexual abuse prevention workshops for a total of 225 children and youth. Some of the workshops were facilitated for children in detention and revealed an urgent need to address the problem of sexual abuse in penitentiary institutions for children. At the residential program we served a new group of 14 children. Eight of them we got out of jail and six were street children with tuberculosis. All the children with TB underwent medical therapy: the Directly Observed Treatment Short Course, DOTS, recommended by the WHO. All children recovered.


Based on one of the stories from "Black Angels, Street Children Realities", we developed the storyboard to the animation "Daughter", which was to be a main tool in a campaign against child sexual abuse. The story was tested on a large group of children and further by our partners from the Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Sexual Abuse. The animator behind the creation of the characters in "Daughter" was Paw Ravn, who generously volunteered his time and talents at Stairway for 4 months. After seven years of financial support from DANIDA, we diversified our financial dependency and signed new partnership contracts with 2 new international funding agencies; Kindernothilfe from Germany and Leger Foundation from Canada. Further, the Embassy of Finland in Manila agreed to support the campaign against child sexual abuse.


The writing of 11 short stories compiled in "Black Angels, Street Children Realities" was completed, and the stories were tested in classrooms in Denmark, Canada and Egypt. The non-formal education classes at SFI were ongoing. More workshops and seminars were held on issues relevant for the survival and growth of street children. SFI was a founding member of a local network for the prevention of child sexual abuse.


Everybody experienced "a hard landing" after the "Goldtooth" tour. Almost the entire TASK group was passed on to jobs or further education. We constructed a new building with dormitory and school rooms. We opened SFI non-formal education school, and received recognition from the Department of Education. We had the first group of students from the International School coming to Stairway for a week of exposure and education on street children and children's rights. 22 endangered street children were admitted into SFI for therapy and non-formal education.


With the musical "Goldtooth" as the main element, SFI launched an international advocacy campaign promoting children's rights. The TASK group, consisting of 17 former street children, performed for more than 20.000 people in 5 different countries. One of these performances was at the UN headquarter in Geneva, Switzerland in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child. Through a very authentic performance, TASK clearly illustrated the worlds that still lie in between the words and promises of the convention and the reality of millions of children around the world.


SFI now held a population of around 20-25 children and youth. The drama therapy, as an integrated part of the development of the musical, was the overall focus and the core of the program. We hosted a Danish television crew for 2 months, making a film for Danish National Television. The film was broadcast nationwide and viewed by hundreds of thousands of children and families. The director of the film, Katrine Nyholm, became a staunch supporter of Stairway and she was the chairperson of Stairway Denmark from 2001 to 2007. "Goldtooth, A Street Children's Musical" had 2 preview performances in a theatre in Manila. With an overwhelming response from audiences and partners, the foundation was laid for planning a local as well as and international tour for the musical.


SFI received license and accreditation from the Department of Social Welfare and Development. The script and the lyrics to the songs in "Goldtooth, A Street Children's Musical" were written, and 17 more or less hard core children/youth from the streets were recruited as the cast. The initial phase of the project was merely drama therapy, and as the children and the quality developed, the idea of TASK, Talented Ambitious Street Kids, was conceptualized. Over the next year and a half the musical grew into a remarkable piece of creative advocacy.


The program continued with creative workshops and camps for hundreds of children from Manila, and the rupture center was running with a population around 8-10 children at the time. The activities were low during this year due to the absence of the program coordinator and the director, who spent most of the year in Denmark as a result of a serious illness.


For the benefit of the earthquake victims, SFI organized a major fund raising concert in Manila with participation of some of the best musicians and artists in the country. To respond to the high prevalence of disease in some of the victims' relocation sites, the overhead was invested in materials for building toilets and septic tanks for 67 families.