Helping them out

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

THEY are supposed to be staying in school, playing games and enjoying the rest of their childhood. Yet, the prevalence of poverty and the negligence of their parents have forced victims of child labor to engage in hazardous working conditions.

Kids are forced into labor to earn extra income to help out the family while for orphaned children, they are compelled to find a living to sustain themselves.

City Social Services Development Office (CSSDO) focal person for the Children's Concern Division Gina Molon, in an interview with Sun.Star Davao, defined child labor as children who are spending most of the day working in hazardous conditions. Hazardous, meaning that children are not only physiologically in danger, they are emotionally, mentally and socially at risk as well.


Data from the CSSDO revealed that there were a total of 264 cases of child labor in Davao City last year. Of the total, 187 are boys while 77 are girls.

Records of CSSDO showed that the most number of child labor cases involved jobs in quarries with 54 cases followed by minor vendors with 52. A total of 41 kids also worked in farms while 38 were scavenging for garbage mostly at the landfill in Tugbok District. Other types of labor included those working as pedicab or tricycle drivers, helpers in charcoal factories, garbage collectors and house helpers.

CSSDO then has a vital role in providing interventions and assistances to the victims but they also need to coordinate with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 11 to have a more efficient delivery of services.

Initially, both agencies can work with the Philippine National Police's Women and Children's Protection Desk to launch a rescue operation once they hear reports of child labor cases.

"Naa mi mga ginapang-rescue nga mga minors nga muingon sa amoa nga kinahanglan gyud nila mutrabaho kay walang-wala gyud ilang pamilya. Ang lain pud kay wala na pud silay pamilya bantog sariling kayod na lang gyud daw sila,(Some minors we rescued tell us that they need jobs because their family has nothing. Others say they have no family anymore that is why they work for themselves.)" Molon said.

DSWD 11 welfare officer III Dalmin Faith Igaña , meanwhile, said they have rescued victims who are in Davao City yet they are natives in other provinces of the region.

"Usually ana ginatagaan namo sila ug cash assistance para pangplete nila and nagabuhat pud mi ug mga recommendation na para ang local government kung asa sila nakapuyo ang magatiman para maghatag anang ginatawag namo nga aftercare services, (Usually we give cash assistance for their travel fare and we make recommendations so that it would be the local government who will take care of delivering what we call the aftercare services.)" Igaña said.

The aftercare services include providing scholarship program, temporary shelter, food allowance, medical assistance, scholarship program, counseling and livelihood trainings.

Molon said that before providing the basic social services, the victims undergo psycho-social intervention and a series of assessments to determine what the victims need.

The scholarship program is the priority program that the agencies address first. Each agency has its own budget which is part of the local government's general fund. Molon noted that they have provided scholarships to more than 60 percent of the total victims last year. She added that some of the scholars are enrolled to the Alternative Learning System (ALS) program of the Department of Education (Deped).

"Some of our assessments on the victims conclude that some have been strongly affected by child labor already and they don't want to go to the traditional education. That is why we enroll some of them to the ALS program," Molon said.

Those who are found with no homes, meanwhile, are then sheltered in CSSDO's Quick Response Team for Children's Concern (QRTCC) facility.

CSSDO also has a special facility for women at the Sidlakan Women's Crisis Center in S.I.R. Matina while some rescued victims are taken to the Balay Dangupan also in S.I.R. Matina. CSSDO also has the Paginhawaan Drop-In Center facility which can be used to house some victims.

When the victims already have a shelter or if they are returned to their homes, social workers will then have to administer a series of counseling and seminar for the kids. The CSSDO offers programs which include the Early Childhood Care and Development Program, Self and Social Enhancement, Productivity Skills Development, Productivity and Livelihood Skills Development and the Leadership Training and Social Development.

The DSWD, meanwhile, have their own programs but are closely similar to those offered by the CSSDO as the DSWD augments their social workers to the local level.

But the programs that the DSWD and CSSDO offer are not only limited to the kids as they also conduct seminars for the parents as well.

"These series of trainings are done to ensure that the kids will not be astray from their nature as children. But at times, it is not the children's fault anymore because sometimes it is the parents who force their child to work to help out the family. That is why there is a need to monitor and train the parents as well," Igaña said.

If DSWD thinks that the root cause of the problem is poverty they can then encourage the family of the victims to apply for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) who may later become beneficiaries of the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS).

CSSDO, on the other hand, offer the Responsible Parenthood Service and the Enhance Parent Effectiveness Service.

"The point of this service is to let the parents know that child labor prevention should start at home. After all, every good value should start at home that is why we are enforcing positive capability building within the households particularly on parents," Molon said.

But while Molon was not able to disclose the total number of victims who received the services from their office, she is positive that they have addressed the concern to all the victims. However, they are more focused now on preventing the occurrence of child labor thus, they have launched numerous information drives. CSSDO has also partnered with non-government organizations such as the Kaugmaon and the Kabataan Consortium.

Igaña and the rest of the DSWD, on the other hand, are continuously monitoring the data from CSSDO and have worked closely with the Inter-agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) to address the issue of child labor.

"There is a need to work with other agencies to intensify the campaign against child labor which IACAT should also be concerned since it is a form of labor. DSWD can't work alone on this. It should be a concerted effort from all the stakeholders," Igaña said.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 06, 2014.


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