Joseph Peter Calleja, Manila
Updated: April 30, 2021 06:39 AM GMT
Staff members feed children at the Hospicio de San Jose children's home and hospice in Manila in this file photo. (Photo supplied)
Aid and civic groups in the Philippines have responded to an appeal from a Catholic religious order to help staff and children at the country’s first foster care institution who have been left struggling due to coronavirus infections and strict lockdowns.
The orphanage, which also doubles as a hospice, said the pandemic has depleted funds to buy necessities and maintain care for its residents.
Hospicio de San Jose is the Philippines’ first social welfare institution and was established in 1810 by Spanish missionaries. It was built on an island in the middle of a river in capital Manila.
It has been a home for abandoned children and the homeless for more than a century.
The Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul, the congregation that manages the home, begged for aid on social media on April 29.
“Hospicio de San Jose is under lockdown. We are appealing for your kind generosity. We have 450 residents and infants. Four out of 19 elderly are Covid-positive. One of them has already passed away … Our 14 staff are also infected,” the sisters’ post said.
I gave a part of my salary. They deserve all the help every Filipino can give for what they do
They said they needed food and grocery items because they were not allowed to leave the island due to the infection. Infants under their care also needed diapers and milk.
“We are running out of food because nobody is donating and the sisters are worried about the children and elderly … any help would be highly appreciated,” the post added.
Aid and lay groups have since started responding to the appeal.
“A lot of donations started coming in this morning … We’re OK so far; we have nurses and [medical] staff here. [But] we need milk and vitamin C,” a staff member told The Inquirer daily on April 30.
The Philippine Red Cross has also taken patients with severe symptoms to nearby medical facilities, while food is being donated by the public. Cash was also being donated via a bank account given by the orphanage.
“I gave a part of my salary. They deserve all the help every Filipino can give for what they do,” said one donor who wished to remain anonymous.
Civic groups like the Rotary Club also delivered boxes of groceries and some blankets for the elderly.
“Many have answered the call to help us. Thank you for making us feel loved and hopeful. This is a miracle,” a staff member at the home told UCA News.