Manila: reaching out to street children
According to the UN, 550,000 children live on the streets of Manila in the Philippines; a shocking figure that continues to rise. Exposed to danger, health issues, drugs and forced labour, these young children are very often exploited and live in extreme poverty. This sad fact is the reason why the Virlanie Foundation has been working for almost 25 years to improve the lives of these neglected street children.
This Franco-Philippine NGO runs a range of support programmes offering them a roof over their heads, psychological and medical care, and access to education, creative opportunities and involvement in sport. It also supports to older beneficiaries by helping them to achieve self-sufficiency in employment and socially. In this way, more than 17,000 children have benefited from the commitment of this non-profit organisation.
Christine de Longevialle, Managing Director of Solidarity AccorHotels, stresses the importance of the locally created links that are central to the value of this partnership: “Because they are all located in central Manilla, the Sofitel Plaza Manila, Novotel Manila Araneta Center and Raffles Makati are essential stakeholders in these solidarity initiatives. Whether in terms of donations, fundraising events, sports and creative challenges or training sessions and workshops, their size means that they can join forces and be really effective in reaching out to underprivileged local communities and contributing to positive hospitality".
So 2016 saw the launch of many initiatives that brought the teams of AccorHotels together with Virlanie and its young beneficiaries to talk things over face-to-face:
- The Sofitel and Novotel donated many products needed by Virlanie: food, household accessories and products for the organisation's residences, gifts for the children and LED lighting.
- Many activities were hosted to facilitate interaction and create strong bonds, including visits to Virlanie and meetings with children, city tours where each AccorHotels staff member was accompanied by a child from Virlanie, mentoring by Sofitel team members for young people at the Magellan learning centre, awareness-based introduction to the world of work via instructional workshops on how to recycle used soaps as part of the AccorHotels Planet 21 Sustainable Development program, etc.
- Employment support takes a very practical form, with the Novotel welcoming three young people to receive practical training in cookery and patisserie skills. The Sofitel teams have also given two young people the chance to train in the hotel, further their careers and diversify their experience of work.
- The Sofitel team also organised a half-marathon that attracted around 3,000 competitors in raising funds for the Foundation.
- And last Christmas, the Raffles Makati hosted a Christmas tree decorating party involving children from Virlanie. A wonderfully friendly and festive celebration!
All these activities are focused on meeting the practical needs of Virlanie. They also reflect the strong commitment of hotel teams: “The hotels share the same vision and values as the Virlanie Foundation. They have built a long-term bond to offer employment opportunities for these young adults so that they can fulfil their potential and become responsible adults", explain the sponsors behind this project in the Philippines: Marian Villar, Director of Human Resources at the Sofitel Plaza Manila, and Bernd Schneider, General Manager at the Novotel Manila Araneta Center.