Twenty (20) child laborers and seventy (70) identified severely wasted children coming from Pag-asa Integrated Elementary School in drought-stricken Brgy. Pag-asa, Alabel, Sarangani Province were the beneficiaries of a feeding program organized by the DOLE XII Sarangani Field Office in coordination with the RS PO Foundation. Emergency employment under the DOLE-TUPAD is also being facilitated for twenty (20) identified farmer-parents of these children.
Feeding was done for 45 days during the school-initiated summer program intended to teach the kids the basics from hygiene to reading in preparation for the opening of classes comes June 2016. To ensure attendance of the children, DOLE and RS Po Foundation provided meals to kids attending school every day.
Pag-asa Integrated School Head Teacher Ms. Sheila Mae Lendio when interviewed during the launching said “Residents of the barangay are suffering from the effects of the El Nino and even children are not spared. There is simply no spare food because of the calamity, and children may be eating only one or two small meals a day in their homes and this feeding program through partners is of big help in encouraging the kids to go back to school and study instead of working or finding ways and means to alleviate their hunger.”
RS Po Foundation representative Mr. Joel Saavedra lauded DOLE’s effort in assisting the children and their parents to ward off the effects of the drought and with this, he declared “This is one government undertaking that is getting full support from RS Po Foundation. With the high number of working and severely wasted children here, our feeding shall not be good for this summer program only for we are including Pag-asa Integrated School in the foundation’s year-round feeding program!.” A statement that garnered loud cheers from parents and children present.
DOLE Sarangani Field Office O.I.C.-Head Alma P. Borela in her message said to the children and their parents, “children’s place must be in school not in farms, not in households as helpers, and definitely not in situations hazardous to them. We believe that the drought has taken its toll on you, but let this not be a reason to send children working. We, the government and the private sector are here to support you. Let us work together to combat the effects of the calamity.”
Based on records, Sarangani Province is one of the provinces heavily affected by the El Nino and is now placed under state of calamity. In drought-hit communities, issues like child labor are exacerbated hence, there is a need to conduct massive advocacy on DOLE Anti - Child labor Programs in the barangay level.
DOLE’s Child Labor Free Barangay Campaign is geared to free identified barangays from child labor, and also to influence change, identify allies and solicit commitments of support from stakeholders, specifically government and non-government organizations, the private sector and the parents of child laborers themselves, believing on the norm that the first phase towards empowerment is through education and other interventions.
The DOLE, in coordination with the PESO and Barangay LGU, further intends to provide parents of the identified child laborers with livelihood projects under the DILEEP for them to have sources of income to be able to support the reintegration of their children into formal education. END MJamolod/APBorela