Children of the Streets

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The afternoon that we left PGH Lobby to go to CHAP or ChildHope Asia Philippines, I do not really have the slightest idea of what we will be doing there, not to mention, where we will be going too. In my mind, it is a non-profit organization for street children, as what has been told in the orientation.  And our purpose as medical students visiting them is to have a routine health checkup on those street children. In fact, while we were riding on the ambulance (which is by the way, not well-ventilated because the air conditioner cannot work while the vehicle is moving), I am thinking of how I will mingle with street children. I am also thinking of what will be the signs and symptoms that they will present to me, for as a medical clerk, my clinical eye is not yet refined.

My preconceived idea is that I would be meeting a number of noisy and dirty yet innocent children of the streets of Manila. That afternoon, there were no street children that welcomed me. Instead, I met three male teenagers. One of them is Rashid, a fifteen year-old male, who will be our index case. We proceeded with our usual history and physical examination of his case, to which our differential diagnoses included viral hepatitis, dengue fever and leptospirosis.

I never imagined that meeting Rashid would make me realize that I am meeting an epitome of teenage boys that are being victimized by vices. Rashid’s stories reminded me of the usual television news associated with gangs. I was able to probe circumstances in his life, as if I were writing a documentary. I have learned that what I see in the news is just the tip of the iceberg. What I value the most is the fact that deep within Rashid’s personality is the urge to change and live anew. And it is with CHAP that everything is coming into reality. It is indeed a hard work for the organization but imagine if this happens to at least half of the street children in the metropolis, it will make a difference.

Hopefully, I can share my part also in this advocacy.

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