Philippines (MNN) — Some ministries have spent both Christmas and the New Year holidays cleaning up after Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Food for the Hungry has been helping families with food and shelter since November 2013.
Now, they’re opening “Child Friendly Spaces” — safe places children can go while their parents seek work. FH provides children with regular meals and playtime, as well as counseling and lessons in basic hygiene.
According to UN statistics, 14.1 million people were affected by Typhoon Haiyan and over 4 million were displaced by the storm. Tacloban was one of the hardest-hit areas, and experts say it’ll take years to rebuild communities and restore infrastructure.
Child sex trafficking was a problem before Haiyan hit, but now kids are even more at-risk.
Just under 20-percent of Filipinos are living in poverty, according to a report released last month. Natural disasters play a significant role in a country’s economic development, and Haiyan’s damage estimates exceed $805 million. This storm seems to have made economic recovery even harder for those struggling to make it above the poverty line.
Last week’s bust on an international pedophile ring involving Filipino children revealed a devastating reality. Poor families in a slum near Cebu City are being paid to let their children perform sex acts for an online audience.
Between 60,000 and 100,000 children are sexually exploited, according to the Philippine government. Many are exploited through so-called “cybersex.”
As families who survived Haiyan face difficult choices, selling their children for online sex may seem like the only option. Pray that families facing this choice encounter FH’s Child Friendly Spaces and choose this option instead.
Through all of their programs, FH seeks to share Christ’s love through holistic care. Pray that Filipino children encounter the Gospel through FH’s Child Friendly Spaces. Pray they will not fall victim to desperate circumstances and an evil trade.