Bel­gian en­voy vows to cham­pion child rights

Manila Bulletin - - Visayas News - By MARK L. GAR­CIA

BA­COLOD CITY–The am­bas­sador of Bel­gium to the Philip­pines vowed to help the marginal­ized chil­dren and ju­ve­nile delin­quents in Ba­colod and Ne­gros through pro­grams and projects that up­hold their rights and give them a chance for a bet­ter life.

Am­bas­sador Michel Gof­fin said on Thurs­day that pro­mot­ing and pro­tect­ing the rights of the child has been one of the com­mit­ments of Bel­gium, and that is why it has al­lo­cated 500,000 eu­ros or R31 mil­lion to the Philip­pines to push those rights.

Gof­fin was in Ba­colod to un­veil a plaque at the Vir­lanie’s Open Day Cen­ter.

Vir­lanie is a Bel­gian non-gov­ern­ment, non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that helps chil­dren who are poor, at risk, abused, and in con­flict with the law in Manila and Ne­gros.

He said that the al­lo­ca­tion will only last for four years but he had pledges from Ne­gros Oc­ci­den­tal Gov. Al­fredo Marañon Jr., and Ba­colod Mayor Eve­lio Leonar­dia to con­tinue the pro­gram.

“R31M is very pre­cious money and it came from the tax­pay­ers of Bel­gium, and we want to make sure that it is used for good pur­poses,” the am­bas­sador said, adding that Ver­lanie is “mak­ing mir­a­cles” as in im­ple­ment­ing the pro­gram.

He said he had vis­ited some ar­eas in Ba­colod to see how the chil­dren be­ing helped by Vir­lanie were far­ing.

“The pro­ject should be sus­tained as there is no rea­son to stop it as there is al­ready a cen­ter to house the kids,” he said.

“I can go back to Bel­gium and say that your money was in­tended to a good pro­ject,” he said.

Be­fore the un­veil­ing of the plaque, Gof­fin met with Marañon at the pro­vin­cial capi­tol here through a cour­tesy visit with Jo­hanna Van­damme, Gen­eral Sec­re­tary of a non-gov­ern­ment or­ga­ni­za­tion in Bel­gium, and Dominique Le­may, pres­i­dent and founder of Vir­lanie Foun­da­tion, Inc.

They talked about the or­ganic ad­vo­cacy of the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment and the prov­ince’s rich source of man­power, from which Gof­fin is par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested in.

The am­bas­sador was also im­pressed with the Ne­gros’ en­vi­ron­men­tal con­ser­va­tion ef­fort.

He will also be at­tend­ing the ground­break­ing for Vir­lanie’s pro­ject, Food Al­ways in the Home (FAITH), ba­si­cally an or­ganic farm for young adults with dis­abil­i­ties lo­cated in Bago City.

The am­bas­sador said he will def­i­nitely come back to Ne­gros to dis­cuss a pos­si­ble part­ner­ship to­wards work op­por­tu­ni­ties for skilled work­ers.

Ne­gros Oc­ci­den­tal Tourism Of­fi­cer Cris­tine Mansinares joined the meet­ing and pre­sented the tourism attractions in the prov­ince.

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