MANILA, Philippines – Last year, a photo of a completely naked and severely malnourished boy circulated on social media. Few months after he was rescued by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), signs of recovery are evident.
The boy was identified as Frederico. It was also discovered that apart from being emaciated, he had congenital heart disease as well.
Three months after rescue, Frederico gained 9.5 kilograms. He now weighs 27.5 kgs from the previous 18 kgs when he was found. He is also visibly happier. He would smile as he savors the aroma of delicious food being prepared.
Back in October 2014, the viral photo that showed Frederico asleep on the ground premises of the Manila Reception and Action Center (MRAC), a government-run facility for street children, gained the attention of a lot of Filipinos. Manila City Mayor Joseph Estrada, upon seeing the image, called the attention of the officials at MRAC.
The Manila Department of Social Welfare (MDSW) denied that they starved the child. Nevertheless, MRAC is in the process of being closed.
At present, Frederico is being cared of at Helping Hands Healing Hearts Ministries in Olongapo City.
“Fred (his nickname) is now a very active and happy boy. His general health is great and his skin which was horrible with sores and eczema is now in wonderful condition. Only a few scars remain to remind us of how far he has come,” the DSWD said.
“Despite his special needs, he can eat now by himself and even uses the toilet properly. The Helping Hands Healing Hearts Ministries staff and volunteer occupational therapist have worked wonders with him. His smile and laughter as he jumps on the trampoline make it worth it all,” they added.
According to Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, they have already found the mother of the child. She claimed that her husband assured her about their son’s wellbeing in Hospicio de San Jose, a shelter house, and not in MRAC. The DSWD is ‘currently doing a case work management with her.’
Although the DSWD will be arranging the reunion of Frederico and his mother, they are still considering putting the boy at the care of a foster family or Children’s home.
Meanwhile, Soliman shunned online reports that they allegedly caged street children in detention centers to clear the streets during Pope Francis’ visit.
“We do not tolerate this practice… We do not jail children. We jail [child] abusers,” she said, adding that they take street children to local social welfare offices where they are fed and cared for.
With report from Cyra Moraleda