Brief History (page 3)

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


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 an 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 of 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 the 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.


SFI instituted a formal partnership with the Bagiuo Arts Guild, from where we recruited young artists as facilitators for some of the many creative workshops we held. We also initiated a close partnership with a Manila based drop-in center, Tanglaw Ng Kabataan, TNK, and started to operate as a rupture center for particularly disadvantaged street children, who needed to be distanced from a life threatening street environment. In the middle of the year we received the first external funding for the programs from DANIDA. Prior to DANIDA's support the program had been solely financed by the founders. In that same year, SFI responded to a local natural disaster, when a strong earthquake hit Mindoro and killed about a hundred people and left tens of thousands homeless. Our focus was on play and art related therapeutic intervention for the many child survivors in the evacuation centers.


We further developed the creative camps and workshops to reach more than 400 child beneficiaries over the year. We expanded our network to another 5 Manila based street children agencies, and we established Stairway Foundation Inc. in collaboration with the chairman, Atty. Johannes Ignacio. Also this year, we founded our Danish sister organization, Stairway Denmark, and we formulated and submitted our first proposal to an international funding agency, namely the Danish International Development Assistance, DANIDA. We had our first advocacy presentation at Roedkilde Gymnasium in Denmark, which led to a long and still ongoing partnership between the school and Stairway.


Stairway’s first collaborating partner, Kaibigan Foundation, brought their children for a camp, which became the beginning of a whole line of workshops, seminars and camps for hundreds of children over the next couple of years. Stairway became a resort for children and staff from our partners in Manila, where children and staff alike could pick up inspiration and motivation for further development. With the abundant exposure to nature and a wide range of visual and performance arts activities, Stairway had already found its particular niche in the network of organizations working for street children.


Initial construction of the center with help from friends and volunteers.


The founders saved enough capital to move to the Philippines in May 1990 to begin the construction of the center.