Issue of September 17, 2017
     
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Help send a child laborer to school support

Twelve-year-old Amanda lives in a shanty in the mountainside in one of the barangays in Baguio City. For as long as she can remember, her day began earlier than most girls her age as she works to help her mother support her family to eke out a living in the public market. From early morning until sundown, Amanda sells fish at the market.

Amanda and other young working boys and girls in the public market become only a manner of surviving daily life – nothing else. The life stories of young fish vendors illustrate the struggles of informal vending, even as it affords them a meager income. The fish vendors try to live life as best as they can, even though some of them do not conform to government regulations.

A lot of fish vendors including children, due to the illegal location of their selling areas, endure greater risk and sacrifice. They have to constantly watch out for authorities and run and hide, lest their goods be confiscated.

The cause of child labor is extreme poverty which forces parents to employ their children as helping hands, while at the same time poor parents are forced to send their children to work instead of school. Children from poor families “are being forced by necessity to augment the family’s coffers by working.” Leaving school and working is a decision forced upon children by the reality they face each day.

The case of Amanda is an example of the difficult situation child workers face. The 12-year-old girl is one of many faces of children who work alongside their parents as street fish vendors.

The International Labor Organization (ILO), the Department of Labor and Employment and the member agencies of the Philippine Program Against Child Labor (PPACL) agreed to target the withdrawal of one million children from child labor within 2016 to 2022.

As the ILO says: “In its most extreme forms, child labor involves children being enslaved, separated from their families, exposed to serious hazards and illnesses and/or left to fend for themselves on the streets of large cities – often at a very early age. Whether or not particular forms of ‘work’ can be called ‘child labor’ depends on the child’s age, the type and hours of work performed, the conditions under which it is performed and the objectives pursued by individual countries.”

In our little ways, we can help send a child laborer and a working child to school. Education is a human right and a key factor in reducing poverty and child labor.

The Pencil and Paper project represents a broad array of services being made available to child laborers and working children in order for them to go back to school. With the DOLE serving as bridge between child laborers in need of assistance, and those able to extend assistance needed like the Rotary Club of Baguio Summer Capital (RCBSC).

The RCBSC gentlemen and their Ann’s started the project during the presidency of Jal Martires then Rommel Alcid and passed on to incumbent president Kits Marquez. They encouraged their kids to participate in the Pencil and Paper Campaign project and to influence their friends, schoolmates, relatives, and neighbors.

The concept is to help send a child laborer to school by donating pencils and notebooks and other educational supplies like books, back packs, and other needs of school children from the far flung villages or barangays in the 3rd to 6th class municipalities of the Cordillera.

Being one of the brethren of the RCBSC, I asked my good friend and Ocho Tres brother, Engr. Joselito “Itong” Tan of Jomarcann to be a major donor and he wholeheartedly accepted to support the project.

As a continuing project, DOLE-CAR Director Exequiel Ronie Guzman expressed his full support to the The Pencil and Paper project. He said this is an opportunity for all of us to share and give happiness to another disadvantaged sector of our society – the children who are forced by circumstances to work to support themselves and their families and to help out-of-school youth return to school by providing basic school supplies.

Today, several groups and individuals expressed support to the Pencil and Paper project by providing the simple wishes of these child laborers, children-at-risk-to child labor, and working children so they can continue their grade school.

There are many ways to help and every action that discourages this inhuman practice, no matter how small, will go a long way. Our partners in this project are SLU Boys High “Batch Ocho Tres,” Baguio Lodge No. 67 of the Free and Accepted Masons (brother Sonny Pasion), Baguio Sunflower Jaycees, Peter Ng and Hotel Supreme, SLU-LES 79ers, OCTCONS, Baguio Midland Courier General Manager Toni Hamada, ABS-CBN TV 3 Baguio through Dobie de Guzman, and anonymous donors. We greatly appreciate any and all donations for the Pencil and Paper project. You can give your donations at the DOLE-CAR, Cabinet Hill, Baguio City. For inquiries, call 443-5339 or email us at dolecar88@yahoo.com.

The change starts within each one of us, and ends only when all children are free to be children. Help send a child laborer to school, donate a pencil, a notebook or any educational supply to The Pencil and Paper project.

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