De La Salle University serves as a temporary sanctuary to the homeless in Manila during the enhanced community quarantine. PHOTO FROM DLSU

Catholic Schools in Philippines Open Homeless Shelters Amid Virus Lockdown

‘In this moment of turmoil, all they could think is a place where they won’t be shouted at or driven away like garbage’

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Church efforts are ramping to help Manila’s homeless population as the coronavirus pandemic continues, CBCP News reported on March 23, 2020.

Some Catholic schools have opened their doors to street dwellers, many of them were “driven away” by authorities to receive help from a church-based feeding and care center.

Fr. Flavie Villanueva, who heads the Kalinga Center in Tayuman district, said they decided to move the homeless to places where they can be properly taken care of.

He said about 168 homeless have now taken refuge at the campuses of De La Salle University, De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde and St. Scholastica’s College.

Fr. Villanueva said they will bring about 100 more street dwellers to two other “safe spaces” where they can stay during the enhanced community quarantine period.

“In this moment of turmoil, all they could think is a place where they won’t be shouted at or driven away like garbage,” the priest said.

“All they hope is an ounce of understanding and some kindness when the dictate is to insulate oneself,” he added.

The Arnold Janssen Kalinga Center and its volunteers will also continue to look after the basic needs of those who are taking shelter at the said schools.

Every Thursday and weekends, the center opens its doors to homeless people who can avail of a free bath and a simple meal while undergoing values formation and counseling.

Last week, however, some village officials sought the help of the police to check the homeless for allegedly violating the social distancing rules.

More than 150 homeless persons usually lined up outside the center to receive help, including a pack of vitamins and a face mask.

Fr. Villanueva said that they were very conscious of the social distancing guidelines after the declaration of community quarantine in Manila.

“There are just some people whose hearts are already contained by certain virus, which is apathy and even manipulative use of their power,” he lamented.

Aside from the homeless, he added that some construction workers have already sought help for a meal from the center in recent days.

“Hunger is already making its presence felt (amid the lockdown),” he warned.

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