A vision of love, hope, and care
In 2004, Norwegian volunteer Erlend Johannesen witnessed the plight of many indigent families and children in his travels within the Philippines. He became convinced that he could do something to help alleviate the lives of these peoples in his own small way.This became the start of the journey for Streetlight!
The first years
2004 - 2010
Streetlight first opened its doors to street children at Trece Martires St. Tacloban City. Erlend started the operation by asking for help from his family and friends in Norway, and established Streetlight as a non-profit organization in December 2004.
The first children came in 2005, and the first project was the renovation of an old, worn out storage facility; which would turn out to be the first orphanage and Child Caring Centre of Streetlight. House mothers would help the children get a sense of what a home was. The Child Caring center expanded, with a place where street children could get help with their education and homework, and a small medical facility where all the street children could get treatments.
A big part of building Streetlight is to get the trust of the street children; being abandoned and living in the streets, it’s not a given that they would trust adults that want to give them a better life. As such, Erlend has spent a lot of time on the streets gaining the trust of the children and getting to know them.
2010 - 2013
In the latter parts of 2008, Streetlight got a longterm contract, acquiring the area that should become Children's Park.
In 2009, three architecture students got together with the street children and their families to make a plan for how the Park should look like when it was finished (through the native expression bayanihan - volunteer work).
Through the community effort, the study center was completed in the fall of 2012: with more space and capabilities to help even more children!
In November 2013, disaster struck: the super typhoon Haiyan swept through the Philippines causing mass devastation.
The typhoon was the most powerful storm ever recorded, with wind speeds reaching 280 km an hour. Everyone thought they were prepared for the typhoon, but that was not the case: the entire stockpile of food and water was washed away by the incredible flood.
At the Study Centre, they had to evacuate to the second floor of the building because of the rising water. Moments after evacuating to the second floor, they had to break through to the roof as the water just kept on rising.
The children and people at Streetlight where stranded on the roof, and the coastal areas of Tacloban where flattened and flooded, with the Seawall area being completely erased. Fortunately, every Streetlight child survived.
In the aftermath of Haiyan, it's estimated that 7.000 people lost their lives and 2.000 went missing.
The children where evacuated to Davao,
We recived tremendous support from all over with people wanting to help and donate to our organisation. And we are very greatful for all the support we recived.
2014 - 2015
What we had built, was more than structures. We had built something that not even the strongest storm on earth could destroy!
After the typhoon all the families of Seawall was relocated to Tagpuro, an area without water and electricity 20 minutes north of Tacloban City. We chose to rebuilt Streetlight in this area, where we were needed the most. Additionally, it is a much safer location than the previous center.
The rebuilding followed the same strategy as when we expanded Children's Park: we let the children and their families work out how it would look, and the community helped rebuilt the center over hundred of bayanihan's.
We have rebuilt a study center, training skchool and an orphanage in Tagpuro. We have also rebuilt the Old Children's Park in Tacloban that was leveled during the typhoon.
In our media section, you can see one of the architects talking about the project.
We are growing slowly, and today we are helping 200 children each year.
The latest addition to our set of programs is our "skills for life" center; that provides teens with an option to get a practical education. You can read more about our programs on the program page here.
We see that the need for us is just as big, if not greater, as when we started. The Typhoon left a mark on the city and its inhabitants. And we want to continue providing help in the future.