Brief History

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


We opened our Children Health and Education Center for the Mangyan community in Baclayan which is complete with a medical clinic, library, outdoor sport court and a roofed veranda for classes and workshops. In the last four months of 2018, 259 patients were served at the clinic. Also in Baclayan, we hosted a 3 day seminar at our farm where men and women from the community came together to learn about organic farming practices. Our Advocacy and Capacity Building program also continued to thrive with the Break the Silence National Network campaigning together against the proposed lowering of age of criminal responsibility in the Philippines. We also continued partnerships with the National Police and DepEd and formed many new partnerships with organisations including Plan International and the British Embassy. The documentary film, ‘A Year of Hope’ was released in March with a premiere at the Danish International Documentary Film Festival. The film follows a group of boys going through a full year of the Family Home program and has been praised by the Department of Social Welfare and Development for its potential as a tool to inspire and educate staff working with children in government centers.


2017 was a big year for our advocacy and capacity building programme as it saw the launch of the Break the Silence National Network which consists of 45 active child protection organisations from across the Philippines. Together they provide a powerful collective voice for change at governmental level whilst campaigning and capacity building at a grassroots level in their local communities. In this first year alone, the network trained 118, 420 children and adults including police, government workers, tearchers and students. We also scaled up our engagement to ASEAN neighbours, partnering with the German NGO Kindernothile to deliver training in Vietnam, Thailand, Bangladesh and Lebanon. 335 students were supported through our Community Assistance programme and 13 boys lived at Stairway on our Family Home programme. We were also very busy on our Environmental Awareness for Children and Youth (EACY) programme with many sea adventure school trips, a strong partnership with the Municipal Environment and Natural Resource Office and even opening our own dive shop! EACY dive is a fantastic opportunity for us to train environmentally aware divers whilst helping to sustain the cost of other EACY programme activities.


We further developed our relationship with the National Police through two residential events which saw directors, chiefs and heads of academic units from all of the 17 National Police Training Institutes come together at our Training and Resource Centre to learn more about child sexual abuse and what the police can do to further protect children. We also saw growing demand for our CyberSafe training and were invited to speak at the 53rd Annual Philippine Pediatric Society Convention about how to detect Cyber bullying and abuse. Our family home programme continued to run with a year full of music and arts activity. The EACY programme also continued to thrive with local teachers and bario officials taking part in our Sea Adventure School to learn about Puerto Galera’s marine life and the need to protect it.


The year of our 25th Anniversary we celebrated on several occasions in great style. We had the Danish rock legends D-A-D play a benefit concert at the legendary Manila Hotel. We had the Harvard Radcliff Orchestra join forces with the Manila Symphony Orchestra in another benefit concert at the International School Manila, and we had the UPLB Voice Ensemble sing their hearts out at Stairway. The BTS program continued to gain momentum with more partners and great demand for our trainings and materials both locally and internationally. We started a new extension program under DANIDA, and we embarked on an E-Learning project, which will make us able to reach much farther with our child protection training and workshops. The Sea Adventure School came on leaps and bounds as the program was embraced by the local National High Schools meaning we will take out school classes and the experience will be placed in the wider educational context. We also started up the EACY Club, which in this first year reached more than 200 members from nearly all the barrios of Puerto Galera.  


We completed a new workshop for maintenance work, furniture production and woodwork classes for the children in residence and started construction of a small bakery. We launched the theater production “The Lorax” based on the story by Dr. Seuss. The sets and props were built as part of the EACY programme and took more than a year to make. The play was performed by the Stairway Children and viewed by hundreds of local students. The SAS bangka started operations after some delays and additional work, but the concept proved excellent. The Break The Silence (BTS) program kept on expanding, and a new collaboration with the Department of Education came into play. New partners were included in the BTS Network, and we reached organizations in more new countries. With significant support from Firetree Foundation, our Educational Assistance program reached new dimensions with more than 200 scholars in the local community. Yale University joined in the Youth for Change program.


We entered into partnership with Marshall Foundation and opened up a new environmental program entitled EACY, Environmental Awareness for Children and Youth. Part of the program is the Sea Adventure School, SAS and we started to build a 50 foot bangka for the SAS. We celebrated 20 years of support from Roedkilde Gymnasium, and another Danish High School, Roedovre Gymnasium, joined in with generous support. We added breakfast to the feeding of the indigenous students in Baclayan. The average attendance rose from around 25-30 at the onset of the program in January 2012 to over 100. Further, we introduce a health component to the program with bi-weekly medical check-up for the entire Baclayan community. With an expansion supported by DANIDA, the Break the Silence Campaign continued to grow. We started up close collaboration with the Department of Social Welfare, while we continued to strengthen the collaboration with the National Police. The international trainings also increased immensely, and Stairway was chosen as regional trainer for KNH in the international move to introduce Child Protection Policies amongst their partners worldwide. The Break the Silence reach included Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Vietnam, India, and Nepal. The family home program ran smoothly with 14 boys in residence. Harvard University joined the Youth for Change Program. We obtained an interest free loan from a partner and make the final payment for the one hectare of land we sit on, meaning we finally received the title of the land we have been renting for the past 2 decades.


We expanded our collaboration with the law enforcement to include the Philippine National Police Academy, which means that all the future PNP officers will undergo Stairway training on child protection, with special focus on child sexual abuse and exploitation. We completed the construction of new quarters for our children in residence, including 2 dormitories, a class room, a library, a computer room, and plenty of outside space for recreation. Break the Silence International entered into India through partnership with ADM Capital Foundation. We ran a whole year of the feeding program at the Baclayan Elementary School for indigenous children with the result that attendance more than tripled. Further, we also secured school supplies, slippers and raincoats for all the students. We started partnership with Swedish partner, VEM and decided to give up leasing and instead purchase our one hectare of land in Aninuan.


2011 passed with new concepts and ideas transformed into programs and activities. It was another year shaped by innovation and creativity, a year where we launched our nationwide Break the Silence Campaign, where we opened an office in Manila, where we reached and trained every single police cadet in all of the country’s 17 regional Police Training Institutes, where our animations and trainers on child protection reached into 6 Southeast Asian countries, and it was the year that our Youth for Change camps expanded to include schools from 3 continents and 6 nations. For the first time we hosted a group of students from our long time strong support, Roedkilde Gymnasium. We opened the Baclayan Community Assistance Program with support from AAP, including intensified work on the organic farm and a feeding program for the children in the local school. We also opened Orange House, a dormitory for camps, workshops and trainings.


The Break the Silence International Campaign against Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation really took off after the completion our latest film, "Red Leaves Falling" and we entered into a focused partnership with the Hong Kong based ADM Capital Foundation to further develop and to execute the Campaign. We trained and worked alongside networks of partners in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma and Malaysia. Red Leaves Falling was dubbed into Khmer, Thai and Vietnamese, Burmese and Malay Bahasa. All of our three animations have been made accessible to the Deaf community by providing sign language insets; both the American and the Filipino Sign Language have been applied through the help of the US Peace Corps and DLSU -CSB SDEAS, a Manila based college with a Deaf department. Our advocacy theatre play, “Cracked Mirrors” continued to move and shake hearts and souls in 2010. Students from Singapore American School arranged for the Stairway theatre troupe to visit Singapore for a line of performances and sessions of direct interaction with students and faculty at the school. The convincing power of the theatre was also proven earlier in the year, when we had the head of the Police National Training Institutes visit Stairway. Upon viewing Red Leaves Falling and Cracked Mirrors, General Sarmiento declared his full support for our training and advocacy program for the police. Consequently, we entered into all of the 17 police training institutes around the nation. We developed and submitted a proposal for a 5 year project with the aim to establish and capacitate a large number of Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Resource Centers in different parts of the Philippines. The proposal was approved by our partners from DANIDA in November. Stairway was nominated for the Philippine Inter-Agency Council against Child Pornography, and was invited by several groups as a resource organization on online safety, training them on how to understand and use the newly ratified anti-child pornography law. Red Leaves Falling was screened at the Human Rights and Sex trafficking Film Forum by the Boston Initiative to Advance Human Rights at The Brattle Theatre & Harvard Kennedy School, Cambridge, MA. We started a project with the Philippine Police Department for Women and Children to improve on their existing set up in a number of police stations in Metro Manila, where we will create more child friendly spaces. With the visit of 20 students from the Singapore American School (SAS) last February, we added a new international partner to our Youth for Change Program. SAS left more than half million pesos donation to help in construction of a children’s dormitory. We purchased a small lot (174 sqm) along the river in Aninuan to secure our deep well and supply of water to Stairway and a number of local families in the community. We made a needs analysis on the children in the Mangyan School in Baclayan, which is neighbor to our 10 hectares of land in the mountains. We took a strong interest in the children, the school and the community, as we learned that the attendance rate in the school is way below 50%, and the students rank way below the national average in their academic performances. Conclusion to the analysis was that children do not go to school, because they are hungry. We used this to develop a school and community program which will initially address the children’s nutrition and health condition, as many are malnourished. The long term objective is to seriously improve the quality of the children’s education. And last but not least, we planted several hundred fruit trees on our land in Baclayan. The next step will be to establish an organic vegetable garden that will help provide food for the feeding program in the school, and at the same time function as a model garden.


The year was filled with many significant events and developments in terms of programs, activities and networking, along with a continuous process of consolidating our organization. We completed our 3rd animation toolkit, Red Leaves Falling, and launched it in collaboration with UNICEF as part of a grand anti child pornography campaign.
  • We developed a new website, which over a time period of 6 months had more than 26,000 visitors
  • We toured in Europe with a campaign against child pornography, featuring Red Leaves Falling as well as the theater piece Cracked Mirrors
  • We started a new collaboration with the US Peace Corps, having their volunteers work with us
  • We completed our new theater/multi-function building, and the stage was opened in style with no less than 4 different, and all very great, performances over the year
  • We received an award from the Philippine National Police for our service in training their personnel, and we further expanded this collaboration to include a large number of training schools for cadets around the country
  • We concluded a one year pilot project in which we aimed to empower 8 partner NGOs to become resource centers for the prevention of child sexual abuse. We hope to bring this project to new heights with a lot more partners over the coming years.
  • We purchased an additional 4 hectares of land adjacent to the 6 hectares in Baclayan
  • We finished and opened Yellow House, a dormitory for camps, workshops and trainings.