Six-year-olds knock on car windows and doors selling flowers or begging for coins. Such street children live throughout the developing world and must sell trinkets or seek handouts to support their families and survive. Many "work" after a full school day. By one estimate, the Philippines is home to 1.5 million such needy children.
In 2005, TI Philippines (TIPI) employees began donating money out of their paychecks to support street children in Baguio City's poorest neighborhoods. TIers provide financial assistance – the equivalent of $10 a month – to support 50 children. The number of children supported doubled to 100 in 2007.
The money is disbursed directly to the children in cooperation with nonprofit organizations and a government agency. With the oversight of nonprofits, the money pays for school supplies and transportation.
"The idea is to give these kids enough money so they don't have to work any more and can go home and study," said George de Leon, employee relations manager at TIPI's Baguio assembly and test facility.
This program is among a handful of TIPI's social responsibility initiatives to "contribute to a stable and self-supporting nation with a high standard of living." Other programs include donating computers and books to universities; providing training to the families of former TIPI employees in trades; paying for preventive health care, including dental care; and donating money to the Red Cross to help tsunami victims in 2005. By reaching out to street children, TIPI hopes to break the cycle of poverty.
"The problem is that children go to school to grade three or four, but then stop to earn a living for themselves or their families," said environment, safety and health manager Rosemarie Gonzales. "Through this program, we've seen children sustain their education through grade six."
Childhood malnutrition is another problem in the Philippines. Although growing economically, many Filipinos are poor due to the country's unemployment and high birth rate. A 2007 survey found that one in five Filipinos goes hungry.
In 2007, TIPI launched a feeding program at two elementary schools. TIPI funds snacks for 230 youngsters identified as malnourished by school authorities.
"Some come to school without eating breakfast," Gonzales said, "and they don't have lunch money."
Nurses at schools are monitoring the children's height and weight to see progress, and in 2008, TI plans to add a hot lunch to each child's school day.