Home > “Les Oursins: the call of the children of the slums” – A report by IFS Grade 12 Students

“Les Oursins: the call of the children of the slums” – A report by IFS Grade 12 Students

International French School (Singapore) Terminale Students met with Aurore Prudent-Roiland, founder of the association, Les Oursins. Read their report on the conversation.

Les Oursins Logo

Lilli, Ombeline, Charlotte and Elyse, grade 12 students engaged in the Terminale Humanitarian Group (Groupe GH EMC), created this year, as part of the Moral and Civic Education programme.

As part of a project to provide material and financial support to the association Les Oursins – Enfants des Trottoirs, they were able to meet and interview the founder of this NGO, Aurore Prudent-Roiland. The association Les Oursins – Enfants des Trottoirs, founded in 1996, aims to help disadvantaged children’s development and well-being in the Philippines.

Following this meeting, the students wrote an article based on the interview, entitled “Les Oursins: the call of the children of the slums”.

Find below the article written by the students:

Les Oursins

In 1995, Aurore Prudent-Roiland participated in her first humanitarian mission in the Philippines with the Association Sœur Emmanuelle. An NGO created by a nun who had worked hard to improve children’s living conditions in the slums of Cairo in the 1980s. 

 Inspired, Aurore created her association, “Les Oursins – Enfants des Trottoirs”, the same year. She gave it the mission of promoting the protection, education and emotional development of street children in the Philippines, both in Manila and in the provinces. 

In a country where 80% of the population lives below the poverty line, nearly 50,000 children are thrown on the street. They suffer from hunger, disease, prostitution and all kinds of trafficking. Aurore came up with the name of her association by thinking of sea urchins’ needles because the children of the slums of Manila are not easy to tame!

Her commitments

Even if many humanitarian associations were already present in the Philippines, for Aurore, an essential element was missing for the shantytowns’ children: games. This is why, with her association, she launched the original concept of the toy library. In this therapeutic space, children can play and read, participate in painting, cooking, dance and music workshops, or playing sports or outdoor games. 

Les Oursins 2

The first toy library opened in Manila in 2000. Since then four more have been established in Biri Samar, Dulag Leyte, Parañaque and Calamba. Play therapy allows each child to express their emotions, develop talents, blossom, and be a child like other children. In the hell of the slums, games give children a taste for life, the desire and the strength to recreate themselves. Aurore remembers a gang of ten-year-olds who arrived one day at the edge of a toy library, suspicious and armed. When they returned, they put down their weapons in front of legos and dolls. “I’ve seen 20-year-olds who have been robbed of their innocence regain some of their childlike spirits,” she says.

 The Oursins association organises cultural outings to allow the children to escape for a few hours from their miserable daily lives and give them energy and hope. Thanks to its school sponsorship programme, more than 250 children have been able to go to school and around twenty to higher education. 

 The NGO also provides social and medical assistance to the families of the children it follows and participates in public and private infrastructure projects and the implementation of programmes to provide emergency aid to populations affected by floods or typhoons to which the Philippine islands are exposed. 

 In 2012, the association was awarded the gold medal of the League of the Public Weal at UNESCO.

Current difficulties

In the context of the rigorous confinement, decreed on 13 March 2020 in the Philippines, which has lasted for more than a year now, slum children and their families living conditions have further deteriorated. With the ban on going out for those under 21 and over 60, except for medical care, children in public schools have been unable to return to school since March 2020. More than three-quarters do not have computers and internet to attend classes at home.

 To face the unprecedented economic and social crisis caused by this situation, the NGO Les Oursins had to redefine its modes of action: it carries out food distributions and provides financial, medical and emotional support to families in the slums in distress. However, for the past seven months, no collection or fundraising event has been organised for the activities and operations of Les Oursins, while the scale of the disaster is increasing.

 This is why Aurore is making an urgent appeal to us, because “the children in the slums need your support more than ever: they are confined to slums of 5 to 9 m², close to other members of their family, near the sewers, in the dark, because they do not always have electricity, without access to toilets or showers, with the only escape being the images of a television that is often stolen or the music of a karaoke”.

 The Terminales humanitarian group were keen to organise a collection of basic necessities from primary school classes, but due to Singaporean restrictions linked to the pandemic, they were unable to carry out their project. This is why its members are now asking for your participation, however modest, through a financial or material donation or the sponsorship of a child, to help Les Oursins relieve the children’s unbearable daily lives in the slums of Manila!

“We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”
– Mother Teresa                       

To support the causes of Les Oursins, click here.

To learn more about IFS Groupe Humanitaire, click here.