DOLE’s livelihood program targets child laborers’ bright future

Project Angel Tree provides a package of school supplies, services, food packs and medicines to child laborers on top of the livelihood assistance provided by DOLE and a series of lectures that focus on child’s rights and well-being from partner agencies.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) continues its campaign to eliminate child labor through livelihood projects aimed at improving the economic condition of their family.

DOLE-6 through its Iloilo Field Office (DOLE RO6-IFO) conducted a profiling activity in the Municipality of Miagao, Iloilo and identified 231 child laborers from 24 barangays of the said municipality.

The child laborers were involved in farming, pottery-making, quarrying, domestic work and construction activities which hinder their rights to social, mental, physical, and psycho-social development.

DOLE-6 and the local government of Miagao take cognizance of the children’s undesirable conditions and took a step to uphold their rights and welfare.

The municipal government of Miagao mobilizes its PESO to support DOLE’s World Day Against Child Labor Activity that address the issues concerning the welfare of these children.

One of the highlights was the Project Angel Tree which is one of DOLE’S initiative to extend help and give assistance to the profiled child laborers. It provided an array of social services that ranges from food, school supplies, and hygiene kits made available by sponsors, benefactors or “angels” to the child laborers and their families.

As the lead agency, DOLE-6-IFO distributed food packs and gave orientation on the Child Labor Elimination and Prevention Program (CLPEP) and its integrated livelihood program.

The Municipality of Miagao provided school supply kits, and its Rural Health Unit discussed on health education and conduct free consultation on top of the food packs offered by the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office and the free vitamins and essential medicines from the Department of Health.

West Visayas State University medical doctors also extended free medical consultation to the child laborers and their parents/guardians.

The toys and lunch from the sponsors and the free haircut service from the Philippine Army made the beneficiaries smile and filled their hearts with joy.

To provide a holistic approach to child labor issues, DOLE-6 did not only focus on children’s welfare but also on the benefits of their parents.

DOLE-6 Regional Director Sixto T. Rodriguez, Jr. approved the livelihood assistance requested by the child workers’ parents to address poverty which is a major contributor to child labor incidence.

DOLE-6 started with the beneficiaries from Barangays Cagbang and Tumagboc, with the releasing of checks worth Php350,120 and Php435,450, respectively.

Fifteen (15) beneficiaries from Brgy. Tumagboc chose to venture into hog fattening project because they are already equipped with the knowledge and skills on hog raising and they have existing pig pens and a stable source of water which are necessary for the sustainability of the project.

On the other hand, the 12 beneficiaries of Brgy. Cagbang chose to venture into various livelihood projects. One of them, a skilled pot maker, requested for the enhancement of her existing pottery business, while two beneficiaries chose the goat raising project and the remaining nine parents still wants to engage in hog raising.

“We will continuously assist and support the different local government units in their respective campaign against child labor. We can achieve our goal through the unified efforts of all the stakeholders and with our firm commitment of poverty alleviation by providing them livelihood,” said RD Rodriguez.

DOLE Iloilo Field Office Head Melisa S. Navarra added that the root cause of child labor is extreme poverty. “Child labor is not just a problem of DOLE, the barangay, or the LGU but of the whole society. It needs a caring society, a convergence of agencies to help eliminate this problem,” Navarra said.

Supervising Labor and Employment Officer Ma. Cecilia S. Acebuque provided the rationale of the various livelihood projects to give the beneficiaries and other interested parties an overview of their chosen livelihood projects.

To affirm their commitment, the municipal officials, punong barangays, and the parents/guardians of child laborers signed an Oath of Undertaking stating that they will withdraw their children from working in hazardous work environment and they will support and uphold the rights of their children.

The barangay chiefs also expressed their gratitude to the Department for providing their constituents with projects that can help them improve their current economic status.