Manila's street urchins get lessons in money

Thu Mar 5, 2009 3:15pm EST
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By Rolando Ng

MANILA (Reuters Life!) - Thrift isn't something Manila's street urchins consider, as most have barely enough money to survive, but a welfare group is showing them that saving their meager income can be their ticket out of poverty.

Traveling down the streets in a van that doubles as a classroom, members of Childhope Asia Philippines give street children lessons on basic financial management in one of Southeast Asia's poorer nations.

The children are also encouraged to give some of their money to the welfare workers, to be put aside as savings.

"We teach these children personal accounting, because many of them have no idea how to spend money properly. For them, it simply comes and goes," said Richardson Mojica, coordinator for the group's Financial Education Program.

Mojica said that learning to save gives the children confidence to face an uncertain economic future.

More than 40,000 workers have been laid off in the Philippines due to the global financial crisis, and some 3 million are jobless, the labor department has said.

Around 90 street children have joined the Financial Education Program since its launch in 2007, with other students recruited from the city's slums.

The first batch of children will enter the program's final phase in March, when they will be admitted to vocational schools to give them skills that would help them become self-sufficient.   Continued...