Some 137 children have been completely withdrawn from the bond of child labor through the pilot implementation of the SHIELD Against Child Labor Project, a model intervention developed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) – Social Technology Bureau and being implemented in collaboration with different National Government Agencies (NGAs), Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), and Local Government Units (LGUs).
SHIELD, which stands for Strategic Help Desks for Information, Education, Livelihood and other Developmental Interventions, aims to help eliminate child labor in the Philippines, particularly its worst forms, by strengthening the fight against it all the way down to the barangay and community levels.
Launched early last year, the project has three pilot regions, including Region IV-A in the Municipality of Catanauan, Quezon; Region V in the towns of Labo, Paracale, and Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte; and Region VIII in Kananga and Ormoc City, Leyte.
Apart from helping to remove children from child labor, the pilot implementation of the SHIELD project has also helped profile a total of 673 child laborers and provided appropriate assistance to 283 children as of June.
Through the project, child laborers and their families are provided with assistance through a convergence of services from different agencies and organizations. These include the provision of educational aid and medical assistance and the facilitation of birth registration to children whose births were unregistered.
The Department and other stakeholders also extend computer literacy and other training to the children, as well as livelihood aid to their parents. It also provides counseling services and conducts family development sessions for the parents of the children, teaching them the dangers of child labor.
The anti-child labor intervention has also helped achieve key milestones in its pilot areas, including the establishment of help desks and SHIELD focal persons in communities, and the inclusion of the project in the LGUs’ annual investment plan to provide counterpart support and to ensure its sustainability.
In addition, one community in the province of Camarines Norte has issued a resolution prohibiting children to work in the mining site. This helped facilitate the immediate withdrawal of children who are working in mining sites.
“We take pleasure seeing that the SHIELD Against Child Labor project is slowly reaching its objectives, including the establishment of child labor local registration system in its pilot areas, strengthening of systems and local mechanisms for convergence of services for child laborers and their families through the establishment of barangay helpdesks, and increasing the awareness and capacities of child laborers, their parents, and the duty-bearers,” DSWD Secretary Virginia “Gee” N. Orogo said.
“The fight against child labor, however, is far from over as there are still a lot of things that we need to do. We continue to work closely with our partners and stakeholders for the implementation of SHIELD so we can help more Filipino children break free from the bond of child labor,” Sec. Orogo added.
World Day Against Child Labor celebration
Just recently, the DSWD celebrated the World Day Against Child Labor with children beneficiaries of SHIELD in the pilot municipalities of the project in Eastern Visayas. The Department, together with its partner agencies and organizations, treated child laborers from the town of Kananga and Ormoc City in Leyte to a day of games and fun activities.
In the Municipality of Kananga, 50 child laborers from the pilot barangays attended the celebration held at the Kananga Municipal Plaza. The same number of children were gathered during the celebration in Ormoc City, which was graced by Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez.
ECLIPSE, Inc., an independent NGO based in Ormoc City and one of the major partners of DSWD Field Office VIII in the implementation of SHIELD in the region, conducted an orientation on the Rights of the Child and sponsored a photo booth and exhibit during both celebrations; while the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Energy Development Corporation gave out school bags, notebooks, and other educational items to the kids as part of their Project Angel Tree.
The highlight of both celebrations was the pledge of commitment of the partners and stakeholders in the campaign against child labor. During which, balloons were released into the sky to signify their support to free more Filipino children from the bond of child labor. ###