The Orphan Crisis

The number of orphans in the Philippines is now estimated to be over 2,000,000! The following four factors are key to understanding the orphan crisis in the Philippines. There is not much we can do about natural disasters, but we are convinced we can move the needle forward on the other three.

NATURAL DISASTERS

The Philippines is located along the Ring of Fire, or typhoon belt. Because of this, the country has suffered from a tremendous number of deadly typhoons, earthquakes, volcano eruptions and other natural disasters. Annually, approximately 80 typhoons develop above tropical waters, of which 19 enter the Philippine region and about six to nine make landfall. The Philippines is named as the country most exposed to tropical storms in the world. Violent tropical storms, such as the latest Haiyan typhoon, can generate 10 times as much energy as the Hiroshima atomic bomb. Such drastic weather destroys homes, villages, and families. Often the survivors are the children, minus their parents. Natural disasters often give birth to orphans.

TEEN/PRETEEN PREGNANCY

Teenage pregnancy affects about 6% of Filipino girls. It sounds like a small number but is the second highest rate in Southeast Asia based on Save the Children’s Global Childhood Report from 2019. An estimated 538 babies are born to Filipino teenage mothers EVERY SINGLE DAY, according to the Philippine Statistical Authority from 2017. This means nearly 200,000 teenagers get pregnant every year. And to make the situation even worse, there are roughly 40 births each year by girls who have not yet reached the age of 13. These young girls are mostly unprepared for motherhood and often have no place to turn except to give up the baby they just nurtured for nine months.

LACK OF EDUCATION

The Philippines’ Department of Education, Culture and Sports’ mission is to provide quality basic education that is equitably accessible to all….” And yet, CNN Philippines reported not too long ago that six in ten families in 2016 and five in ten families in 2017 lacked access to basic education. 

There is a huge disparity among different social groups in educational achievement, as there would be in most countries. The wealthy have better access to education than the poor. And since around 25% of the population live below the poverty line, many Filipinos, while being literate, find it hard to get ahead in life. – which leads us to the last condition contributing to the orphan crisis in the Philippines.

POVERTY

Widespread corruption in Filipino politics and business prevents social mobility and growth. Power is concentrated among influential families and connected individuals, offering the poor truly little chance to better themselves. The Rural Poverty Portal reports that half of the poor in the Philippines live in rural areas. The poorest of the poor are the indigenous, landless laborers, fishermen, small farmers, mountain folk and women. Deforestation, depleted fisheries and unproductive farmland are major problems for these people. Illiteracy and lack of educational opportunities are also critical issues.

NOT-SO-FUN FACT

The Philippines IMPORTS much of its rice. Poor rice farmers can’t catch a break.

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