04 Jun The Story of How Sisters from Cagayan de Oro Escaped Prostitution
Having a sickly mother and a pedicab driver father made 14-year old Andrea, not really her name, and her sisters to struggle with life. They live in one of the ghettos in Cagayan de Oro, and due to poverty, the CDO sisters stopped schooling. Their parents just can’t afford to send them all to school. Andrea recalled the times they slept with their stomachs empty.
Andrea might have left school but she didn’t feel sad, instead, she felt the urge to look for money. Through the most desperate way to earn money.
“My friend asked me if I’m willing to sell my virginity because it’s [worth a] high price and it would help the family,” said Andrea. “I didn’t want to do it but that’s the only way to earn money.”
For her to buy medicines for her mother and food for her siblings, Andrea took the offer out of despair. And she openly said that her first customer was an older man of about 40 years old. Following that, she was out on the streets every night talking to clients, negotiating. She get offered by her clients an average of P1,000 for a night. For a week, she could earn more or less P1,500 which is already a lot for her.
“I buy rice and food for my siblings. The extra money will be for the medicines of my mother,” said Andrea.
Andrea then learned to use solvent to block down the pain. According to her, the solvent was her sweet escape, making her sometimes dream like she was in heaven.
“I thought I’d get stuck with this. I thought my life would be in prostitution forever,” words from Andrea.
Later she found out that her younger siblings aged 13, 11 and 8 had started doing what she does on the streets, and even tried solvent. She tried to stop them yet they said they need the money in order to survive. Sooner, her parents got involved with drugs, making Andrea feel that they no longer care for her and her siblings.
“Our family is hopeless,” said Andrea.
Then Andrea met Tisaka, a local organization that invites women and girls to a shelter providing education and training and even perform social hygiene check-ups and orientations. Partnered with the World Vision.
Andrea then brought with her her sisters at a shelter for sexually trafficked girls named “Belen”. It is a temnporary shelter for girls who were sexually abused, ran by the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro. They went through a s series of counseling for two weeks, that includes psychosocial and spiritual support.
With all the love and care the group provided to Andrea and her sisters, she still think of her mother’s health.
Went through a legal process with the support from DSWD, couple weeks later, the CDO sisters were introduced to Malissa Home Incorporated, World Vision’s partner agency through (THRIVE) project. There, they would be given in-depth counseling, medical and psychosocial care. Andrea’s parents signed a waiver agreeing to entrust her and her siblings to these groups.
“In case of neglect, abuse, or abandonment, children are placed under the care of DSWD and other licensed caring institution for care or adoption,” adds Connie Quebada, World Vision project officer of the Teaching Health and Resilience to Children through Inclusive Values and Empowerment (THRIVE) project. In this case, their parents are incapable of supporting the girls.
“I’m glad that other people came in to rescue us,” Andrea finally said. “I wish that my sisters and I will have a better life ahead.”
The CDO girls were given a home where they were provided with counseling, education, shelter, clothes, healthcare and food.