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CONVERGENCE FOR BUTONG CHILD WORKERS

Barangay Butong in the Municipality of Diplahan is the pilot area for the Child Labor Free-Barangay Program of DOLE in Zamboanga Sibugay. The successful launching in August 2012 prompted the formation of the organization of parents of child workers and the Rapid Assessment and Planning Workshop and Convergence Meeting conducted in October 16-17, 2012 with the beneficiaries and stakeholders of the Child Labor-Free Barangay Program in Butong, Diplahan.

RAPID NEEDS ASSESSMENT AND PLANNING WORKSHOP (Day1 – Oct. 16, 2012)

In this activity, the parents, child workers and members of the BCPC were gathered to talk about their situation, issues and concerns. An Orientation on the Philippine Program Against Child Labor was given, followed by series of workshops.

The highlight of this activity was the personal sharing of parents about their poverty, their survival and values. They also shared their realization of the importance of their role to take care of their children and put emphasis on education as a way to set them free from the cycle of poverty.

There were also participants who shared their success stories that despite their poverty they were able to pull it through in life. They encouraged others to do something out of their situation instead of losing hope and let things unfold before them.

The whole-day activity was very inspiring for everyone. The parents shared their personal stories and realized the change they need to do. The BCPC members have also admitted their seeming negligence of their duties and committed to support the implementation of the Program. The day ended bringing new hope in stopping child labor.

INTER-AGENCY CONVERGENCE MEETING (Day 2 – Oct. 17, 2012)

The implementation of the Child Labor Program is anchored on inter-agency collaboration. The inter-agency convergence meeting was conducted the day after the assessment to gather support from stakeholders. The meeting was attended by partners from the PSWDO, MSWDO, BRIXTON Mining Corp., DILG, and DepEd, Barangay Butong is represented by the Punong Barangay and the President of Parents of Child Workers in Butong.

After the preliminaries, the Rapid Assessment outputs were presented to the body by the DOLE, the Parent-Beneficiary Representative and the Barangay Captain of Butong. The discussion of issues was facilitated by the DOLE Provincial Head, Imelda F. Gatinao. The issues and concerns were readily answered by appropriate agencies.

Indeed, the meeting successfully served its purpose as each agency willingly extended its support and services to help the beneficiaries in Barangay Butong.

On October 20, 2012 the DOLE Sibugay together with the LGU of Diplahan attended the Barangay Assembly in Butong to present the results of the assessment and support of partner agencies and organizations on the Child Labor-Free Barangay Program. The DOLE also took the opportunity to advocate for the eradication of Child Labor in Barangay Butong through an assemblage of almost 200 participants representing 190 households.

Stopping child labor also means fighting the perennial problem of poverty. The road we are taking now may not be easy. It is in fact challenging but DOLE is not alone in this journey. With the cooperation of the parents, barangay officials, the community and partner agencies we are moving forward towards a better and brighter Child-labor Free Barangay in this part of the country.

(Edyll Grace P. Poligrates)

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