Catholic schools welcome homeless amid virus lockdown

CHURCH officials are ramping up efforts to help Manila’s homeless as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Some Catholic schools have opened their doors to street dwellers, many of them “driven away” by authorities, to receive help from a church-based feeding and care center.

Fr. Flavie Villanueva, who heads the Kalinga Center in Tayuman district, said they decided to move the homeless to places where they can be properly taken care of.

He said about 168 homeless have now taken refuge at the campuses of De La Salle University, De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde and St. Scholastica’s College.

Fr. Villanueva said they will bring about 100 more street dwellers to two other “safe spaces” where they can stay during the enhanced community quarantine period.

“In this moment of turmoil, all they could think is a place where they won’t be shouted at or driven away like garbage. All they hope for is an ounce of understanding and some kindness when the dictate is to insulate oneself,” he said.

The Arnold Janssen Kalinga Center and its volunteers will also continue to look after the basic needs of those who are taking shelter at the schools.

Every Thursdays and weekends, the center opens its doors to homeless people who are given a free bath and a simple meal. At the shelter they undergo values formation and counseling.

Last week, however, some village officials sought the help of the police to check the homeless for allegedly violating the social distancing rules.

More than 150 homeless persons usually line up outside the center to receive help, including a pack of vitamins and face mask.